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Reno's Ollie Osborne pumped to be playing in Masters: 'Everything I've dreamed of'

Ollie Osborne
Ollie Osborne tees off at the 12th hole during a practice round at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday. . (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The screensaver on Ollie Osborne's phone is a picture of Tiger Woods' iconic fist pump from the 2005 Masters after the golf legend sank an 18-foot birdie putt to beat Chris DiMarco in a sudden-death playoff.

"That was one of my favorite tournaments ever to watch and one of my first Masters I really remembered as a kid," the Reno native and Bishop Manogue graduate said last week.

Sixteen years later, Osborne will play in his first Masters, easily the biggest tournament in the 21-year-old's life. Osborne qualified for golf's most famous major by finishing runner-up in last August's U.S. Amateur, which also qualified him to play in the 2021 U.S. Open. While Osborne has some lofty goals on the course this week, he's not going to let this opportunity pass without being a golf fan, hence the screensaver of Woods.

"I'm totally going to be the fan kid," Osborne admitted before leaving for scenic Augusta National Golf Club. "I'm going to go around and have a great time and try to meet some of these great athletes and get to know them. I'm going to ask for autographs and all that stuff."

Before traveling to Georgia for this week's tournament, which begins Thursday, Osborne twice had the opportunity to visit the historic course. Last month, he played Augusta with his father, Stephen, a local lawyer who will caddie for his son this week.

"I've been twice now with a couple members," Osborne said. "I got to play abut two weeks ago with my dad, actually. That was a lot of fun to go out there. It's kind of everything I've ever dreamed of. It's a really cool spot and really fun."

This won't be the first PGA Tour event for Osborne, who qualified for the Barracuda Championship on his home course, Montreux Golf & Country Club, in 2019. Osborne missed the cut that weekend by one point after a double-bogey on the 18th hole of his second round. While the stage this week is much bigger, Osborne believes his experience two years ago will be beneficial.

"I think that's going to help a lot," Osborne said. "I remember how nervous I was that first tee shot at the Barracuda. I think that was really good to get a pro event under my belt. It's really helpful, and I actually had a little bit of a crowd there, too. I know how it feels now, so that will be good."

Osborne said it was nice to see Augusta in person before this week. While he's watched the Masters over the years, it's different in person. The course is even more difficult than it looks on television. That's especially true of the greens.

"Everybody always says you can't believe the hills, but what really got me was the greens," Osborne said. "The TV does not do the greens justice. The tee shots look pretty similar to what you can see, but I was looking at No. 6, that par-3 standing at the front of the green and the pin was in the back right shelf and the shelf was taller than I am. It was like 7 feet tall and the TV makes it look flat and all these pictures make it look flat. It was great seeing the greens and the grounds for a couple of rounds."

A junior at SMU, Osborne has competed in five college events this season, his best finish being a tie for fourth at the Trinity Forest Invitational in Dallas. In addition to trading messages with SMU alums Bryson DeChambeau and Kelly Kraft about this week, Osborne has been working with mental coach Dr. Bhrett McCabe, who mentors PGA and LGPA Tour players. Among his pieces of advice: "Make sure you have the best week of your life."

Osborne is focused on making this week an enjoyable experience no matter how he golfs. But he also wants to perform well.

"One of my goals is I want to be the low amateur of the week," Osborne said. "That is a physical goal that I want. But at the end of the week, I want to look back and know I enjoyed the experience and took the time to take it in with my dad on the bag and all that. I don't want to have any regrets of not taking it all in and not having that great experience."

Osborne is one of just three amateurs in this year's field, a lower total than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic (there's usually at least five). Joining him are U.S. Amateur champion, Ty Strafaci, and British Amateur champion, Joe Long. At age 21, Osborne is the youngest player in the field. He will be paired with major winners Fred Couples and Francesco Molinari with a 9:24 a.m. Pacific time start Thursday and 6:12 a.m. tee time Friday.

"It's set in a little bit, for sure," Osborne said of the magnitude of the tournament. "I'd say it really set in that first time I went there that first week of February and seeing the course for the first time and knowing you're going to play the event there. It will definitely be different standing on the tee box that first day, but it's definitely setting in a little bit now."

Osborne is cherishing having one of the 88 spots in this year's tournament. Most of his family will be in attendance, including mom, Elizabeth; brothers, Stephen and Christian; sister, Sarah, who is coming out from the Naval Academy; sister-in-law Sam; as well as his grandma. Ollie joked one of the toughest decisions he had to make was over which Stephen — his brother or father — would caddie for him. The younger Stephen was his caddie during the Barracuda Championship; the elder Stephen did so at the U.S. Amateur.

"Every time it's my brother or dad caddying," Ollie said. "I don't let anybody else caddy. I love them both, and it was honestly one of the toughest decisions I've had to make in a long time. I feel more comfortable than ever with my dad on the bag, so that's what it boiled down to. My brother actually took it really well. I was dropping him off at the airport and told him, 'I'm going to have dad caddie for me.' He understands, so I think it works out for the best."

You can watch Osborne's full NSN Daily interview below.

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