Jonathan Richman wanted one thing for his 50th birthday: Masters Tournament tickets.
The avid golfer from Pinehurst, N.C., had never been to Augusta National Golf Club before Monday morning.
Standing behind the ninth green, Richman watched Kyung-Tae Kim, Rory Sabbatini and Brendan Steele practice shots to possible cup locations for the tournament.
“See how he got under it and made it spin backwards like that?” he said to his wife, Liz Richman.
She nodded in response as Sabbatini chipped a shot on the sloped green.
“The changes in elevation on the course are not as evident on camera,” she said.
The Richmans play golf in Pinehurst, where the 2014 U.S. Open will be held, and plan to attend that major as well. While visiting Augusta, they are bunking with friends in Aiken.
“It was such a good opportunity to come here,” she said. “We are very excited. It’s a beautiful course.”
Jonathan Richman said he was enjoying his present even though his birthday was in February.
“It’s OK,” he said. “I’m a patient man.”
Brandon McGuinnes, of Boston, was also in Augusta for the first time.
“The anticipation of these tickets was excruciating,” the Rory McIlroy fan said.
He secured his tickets through luck. A couple of friends won four tickets at a charity auction and drew names to give away the other two. The two who won the drawing backed out, and he was next up.
“It’s been a long flight for one day on the course,” he said, adding that he purchased a last-second flight into Atlanta that was not cheap. “But you won’t hear us complain.”
He came with his co-worker and friend Matt Brown.
“This is, seriously, the coolest thing I have ever done,” Brown said as he watched Geoff Ogilvy tee off on the sixth hole. “We watch these guys on TV all the time and now, I can almost touch them.”