For Trip Kuehne, the only good part about finishing second to Tiger Woods in the U.S. Amateur last August was that in reaching the finals, he qualified for the Masters. Kuehne, 22, nearly quit the Oklahoma State golf team last October. He already had a degree in psychology, and college golf no longer meant much after the Amateur, where he was 3 up with nine holes to play before losing, "I didn't play very well in the first couple of tournaments in the fall, and I wasn't very happy," Kuehne said. "I hated golf and I hated everything else. I just wasn't interested in playing anymore."
Then, in January, he traveled to Augusta National, where caddie Edward White persuaded him to forget about the loss to Woods and move on. "He said golf wasn't life or death, and to enjoy each shot." recalls Kuehne. "All of a sudden, everything turned around for me."
"I just tried to pick his confidence up," White said last week. "Sometimes that's all it takes, just somebody to listen and maybe say a thing or two."
Kuehne got in three rounds in January, and he played a total of 72 holes on the Saturday and Monday before the Masters. In one round he beat Fuzzy Zoeller and John Daly out of $20 in skins. But Kuehne's luck changed on Thursday. On the 1st hole he pushed his drive right of the fairway bunker and into the woods. He bogeyed the hole and went on to shoot 79. "Fuzzy told me something I should have remembered about cutting your losses," Kuehne said that afternoon. "He said to always use the club you won't be in trouble with if you hit it bad."
Friday was a little better. Kuehne shot 76, but he finished at 11-over 155 to miss the cut by 10 strokes. Still, it was a week he will never forget. He had the opportunity to stay in the clubhouse's Crow's Nest with Woods and the other amateurs, and while he didn't score well, he feels like he played well. "I was with the greatest players in the world, at probably the greatest club, at the greatest tournament," said Kuehne. 'I can't imagine anything better."