Antonio Murdaca has taken much of his impending Masters debut in his stride.
But legendary Greg Norman jokingly assured him today that he’d soon have something else in his strides.
The young Adelaide amateur, playing at Augusta National after winning last year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, met with one of his idols today as his preparations reach the final stages.
But nothing could have prepared him for the advice Norman offered him in front of a Qantas Golf Club launch crowd at the New South Wales Golf Club.
“Antonio, I’m very proud of you, my friend – to see you get to where you want to be, the goals you have,” Norman began as Murdaca looked and listened in awe.
“To get to Augusta National at such an early age, I know what it feels like.
Just go there and embrace it, love it.
“There is going to be a `wow factor’, you probably will have a few things running down the back of your leg.
“It will make you nervous.
“But that nervousness, take it more as excitement. If you get excited about something you love doing, you’re going to perform extremely well.
“I’ll watch you. I wont’ be there but I’ll definitely be watching.”
And if that wasn’t pressure enough for the wide-eyed South Australian, he had one last word of advice.
“It’s an easy golf course, by the way,” Norman quipped light-heartedly of the track on which he became a global legend, even though he never pulled on the winner’s green jacket.
Murdaca, normally unruffled, was clearly chuffed to receive the personal touch from Australian golfing royalty, telling the crowd he was “pumped” to be in the same room as the “Great White Shark”.
After hearing the veteran’s words and sharing a quick moment together, he confessed
“I’m pretty pumped right now, my heart’s beating pretty quick,” Murdaca beamed.
“I didn’t think I’d feel like this; I’ve got no words for it. I’m ecstatic right now.”
“I’ll remember the words. Yeah. Just to embrace the experience. I can’t wait.
“Those words make you think of it (Masters debut) a little bit more now and it’s starting to sink in.
“I honestly can’t think of any words right now. I’m so pumped about it.
“He’s obviously one of the legends of golf … everything he’s done gives us that motivation to be the best and follow what he’s done.
“It’s hard to believe he was just talking to me like that – it’s pretty cool.”