April 7 2012
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- On Saturday, Kelly Kraft was the first player on the course at the Masters, playing with a marker due to an uneven number in the field. Sunday, he'll play his last round of golf as an amateur, appropriately on Bobby Jones' hallowed ground at Augusta National. On Monday, he will turn pro. And later this month, he'll make his first start as a pro at the Valero Texas Open on a sponsor's exemption.
Suffice to say, the reigning U.S. Amateur has a lot on his mind.
But it's been an enjoyable week for Kraft, who qualified for the Masters by winning last year's U.S. Amateur. Had he turned pro earlier, he would've had to give up his spot here. Instead, he made the cut this week, extending his amateur career by a couple of days.
"Making the cut was pretty special," Kraft said. "I get to play all four days. It was a goal of mine. Now I've got one more round."
Kraft is one of three amateurs who made the cut. After shooting a 5-over 77 on Saturday, he took himself out of the running for low amateur honors. He's at 10 over for the tournament, while Patrick Cantlay is at 7 over. Hideki Matsuyama started the day at 1 over and moved to 1 under through 12 holes.
But Kraft is looking forward to Sunday's final round and hopes to break par.
"I'd like to shoot one round under par out here," he said. "I don't feel like my game is that far off. And you know, just cover a lot of mistakes and I'll be hopefully shoot under par tomorrow."
After that, he'll make his first pro start in San Antonio back in his native Texas. His next start after that will be the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
"I think I will be a little more comfortable playing closer to home," said Kraft, who is from the Dallas area. "You know, I'm just ready to kind of start my career and get doing."