I read last week that Augusta Regional Airport had increased its capacity to allow up to 200 private jets to be ‘parked’ at any one time during Masters week. I’m sure that will please the likes of Rory, Phil and Tiger, who’ll be able to arrive in Augusta from all points of the globe and park their jet close enough to Augusta National to smell the azaleas on arrival.
I’m lucky enough to be travelling with Antonio Murdaca, Golf Australia National Squad member and a Masters participant courtesy of his win at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. While the big boys park their jets it’s fair to say Antonio’s journey had a little more to it.
A 6am wake up on Thursday and Antonio, his Mum Antonia, Dad Domenic and coach Gareth Jones were putting the padlocks on their suitcases whilst they waited for the taxi they had booked the night before. Forty minutes later when it hadn’t showed frantic calls were being made when it casually rolled up to their house. OK, time to relax, we’re on our way. Adelaide to Sydney, part one done.
Unfortunately part one was the easy leg, the world’s longest non-stop flight between Sydney and Dallas was next, which became the world’s longest stop flight as we discovered there was an 8 hour delay. Qantas Club to the rescue where Antonio filled his time by eating 2 lunches, 3 dinners and 5 desserts. I guess he’ll walk it off over the next week. So, 15 hours after waking up we were on our way to the USA.
Arrival in Dallas was smooth and Qantas had done a great job arranging us all as we’d missed our connection through to Atlanta. A bus to a nearby hotel, 5 hours rest, followed by a 5am bus back to Dallas Airport and our flight to Atlanta. Ready to go. Not quite, Antonio’s golf clubs hadn’t made it back to the airport. Just a slight issue for a guy going to play the Masters The driver in his wisdom had taken them off to fit more suitcases on. Interesting theory. The good news for the country NSW pennant team also on the bus was that all their clubs had made it. After twenty minutes of considering playing with a hire set a second bus rolled up and Antonio’s clubs appeared. All good said the driver. Yep, all good, let’s check in.
Check-in we did, all apart from Antonio’s mum who for some reason wasn’t ticketed by American Airlines. After sorting that out and nervously leaving Antonio’s golf clubs at the drop off area we were getting closer to our final destination. A smooth flight and the return of Antonio’s clubs and we were just about there. We loaded the bags into the massive Chevy van we hired (the Canyanero for Simpsons fans), plugged the address of our accommodation into the GPS and were off – in the wrong direction. Airport road closures and an inflexible GPS meant we saw more of Atlanta than was planned but the GPS found its form and we were on the I20 bound for Augusta without needing to refuel.
So, after a quick lunch stop 47 hours after his alarm went off, Antonio arrived at his accommodation for the week. A lovely home about 20 minutes north of Augusta National. Quite a journey but on Thursday morning it’s not about a jet parked around the corner, it’s about your preparation and readiness to play. Antonio has prepared well and this will continue when he plays his first practice round with Adam Scott. Antonio has promised not to ask him for a lift home.