AUGUSTA, Ga. — Competing to win the Masters won’t be nearly as nerve-wracking for Smylie Kaufman as watching an LSU football game.
“LSU football is one of the most painful things to watch ever really,” the alum said. “That just speaks to how big of a fan I am, though.”
Playing in the third round of his first Masters on Saturday, Kaufman had the day’s best score: a 3-under 69 at Augusta National. He is 2 under in the tournament and will play in Sunday’s final round with defending champion Jordan Spieth, who is 3 under.
Though only three players have won a green jacket in their first attempt – and just one in the past 78 years — Kaufman said he isn’t nervous.
“I tend to play well on hard golf courses,” he said. “I’m driving the ball really well right now and if I’m going to get on the greens just as much as everybody else, I think that I’ll have a pretty good opportunity to be in contention, which doesn’t surprise me.”
Kaufman qualified by winning the Shriners Open, his lone PGA Tour victory since turning pro in 2014.
He navigated the tricky, windy conditions on Saturday like a veteran.
After birdieing the par-5 second hole, he ran off a string of pars until he hit a bad drive and bogeyed the 11th to fall back to 1 over.
He then birdied the par-5 13th, par-4 14th and par-3 16th to reach 2 under and make the final group.
Kaufman said he’s going to try to not let whatever Spieth is doing affect him on Sunday. He has learned in his short time as a pro that when he does that, bad things happen.
The other reason: he said Spieth’s record against him is probably “1000-0.”
“He’s always beating me,” Kaufman said. “Granted, he was so much better than I was as a junior and amateur. I was kind of a late bloomer in that regard. Just kind of kept on getting better.
“As soon as I realized my potential, I really started to improve and just sort of absorbed information as I went and stuck to a plan and just stayed committed to it and worked really hard at that plan.”