AUGUSTA, Ga. – Wednesday here at the Masters has always been my favorite.
Anticipation for round 1 around the corner is high and the Par 3 Contest is a treat for competitors and customers. Hudson and I have been best friends for nearly 25 years now, and I’m incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to stick with him this week as he pursues a green jacket at the 2022 Masters.
We started Wednesday with an early morning wake up call and were at the door of the house he had rented for the week at 6:15 a.m. A 10 minute drive from Augusta National we were allowed into Magnolia Lane to the clubhouse. .
For those unfamiliar with Magnolia Lane, it’s a treat to cruise around and something I’ll never forget. It’s so amazing to think that the same guy I’ve played countless rounds of junior golf with was able to navigate the choppy waters of college golf, mini-tour, and pro golf. About 90 players attend the Masters each year and our hometown boy from Tallahassee is one of those lucky ones. Truly an incredible achievement and very well deserved.
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Early start for ‘Hud’
Hudson wanted to get to the course early to stretch and warm up before hitting the course around 8 a.m. for a practice round to try and beat the stormy weather weighing on Augusta. He teamed up with Viktor Hovland, currently fourth in the World Golf Rankings, and they left around 8:15 a.m.
I had driven the courtesy car – a brand new Mercedes Benz GLS450 – home to pick up Katherine, Hudson’s near-term pregnant wife (she’s an absolute rock star!). We came back to the course and I caught “Hud” on the second hole.
In practice rounds, golfers mostly play a single ball until they get to the green, then they hit multiple balls around the green, practicing a few chips and putts they might face in the days to come. . Hudson played well, drawing cheers from the always dapper and respectful patrons of the Masters. He played nine holes and then decided to head to the driving range to work on a few things.
Unfortunately, the hated lightning alarm at Augusta National went off around 11:30 a.m. and players and patrons were asked to take shelter. This put a wrench in our plans as Hudson was planning to play in the Par 3 contest shortly after noon. Hudson has had bad luck when it comes to the par 3 contest in his previous appearances, so that was par for the course.
In 2017 the weather rained and last year it didn’t happen due to COVID-19 so he was really looking forward to playing and having his beloved mum Jean caddy for him. Luckily the weather cleared up and the Par 3 contest started around 1:30 p.m. Hudson teamed up with close friends and UGA teammates Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman. Both Kevin and Brian have multiple children, so it made for a fun, relaxed couple where it was more about family than competitive players.
Son James steals the show
All three players continually had their children hit on every hole and Hudson and Katherine’s son James, 3, was quite the star. You could hear him continuously shouting “Woah” and “Showtime” throughout the ride. I hope Titleist fills Hudson with balls because James wasn’t afraid to hit a lot of golf balls into the ponds adjoining the beautiful green fairways and greens of Augusta National’s Par 3 course.
Everyone was pretty exhausted after the Par 3 contest, so most of the crew went home. I waited for Hudson to finish his round of physical therapy and then we left class to go home and rest.
Dinner was served at the house and the rest of the night was spent eating, reminiscing and occasionally playing ‘hide and seek’ with James filled with 3-year-old belly laughs.
As many close to Hudson know, he lost his father David last December. David has been my walking partner in many tournaments while watching Hudson over the years. I will regret not having him here on Thursday as Hud begins his journey to Augusta in 2022. However, I am reassured to know that David will be watching every step and every blow Hudson takes over the next few days on Augusta’s hallowed ground. National Golf Club. Hudson tees off at 8:55 a.m. Thursday and is paired with Min Woo Lee and Cameron Young.
Go get them Hud!
Editor’s note: Cory Guzzo was born and raised in Tallahassee, where he currently works as a lobbyist. Cory and Hudson first met on the junior golf and all-star baseball tours when they were around 11 years old. They attended Maclay together and played varsity golf. When Hudson went to Georgia and Cory to Florida State, Cory caddyed for Hudson at the many prestigious amateur golf tournaments Hudson was invited to during the summer. In 2010, Cory caddyed for Hudson at the US Open at Pebble Beach, when he competed as an amateur. The two acted as groomsmen at each other’s wedding.
Contact Jim Henry at [email protected]