Like just about everybody, it’s been an unusual 2020 for Winnipeg’s Derek Ingram.
When the coronavirus lockdowns first began in the spring, Ingram was giving golf lessons on social media out of his garage, but it’s feeling a lot more normal these days with the head coach of the Men’s National Amateur Golf Team attending his fourth Masters.
“It’s like a Magic Kingdom for adults who love the game of golf,” Ingram said. “For me, I used to dream about playing here first as a player, and then as I got older, more into coaching, I used to dream about being a coach and being here. And to have been here as many times as I have is a real thrill.”
For the first time in Masters history, there’ll be no fans in the grand stands at the Augusta National Golf Club, but there will be four Canadians teeing it up, which is the most in a Masters field in more than half a century.
Ingram is here as the coach for Corey Conners, who’s playing in his third Masters after a 46th place finish a year ago.
For most events, Ingram is with Conners every step of the way, but this is the Masters where they have much stricter rules.
“Most PGA Tour events I can get inside the ropes and walk on the greens with him, right in the tee box with him, and we can do work on the golf course in the practice rounds,” said Ingram. “But this week, Augusta is special and different. They don’t allow coaches inside the ropes.
“They’ve warned me about six times in two days to not get too close to the players. So I am obeying the rules. We are there for prep before he goes out and plays, and practice after. And he’ll come over to me on the side of the fairway, or the side of the tee box to chat about anything specifically.”
The Winnipeg-born Nick Taylor is playing in his first Masters. And he already has one PGA Tour victory under his belt this season.
“I love Nick’s game,” said Ingram. “He’s really smart, a great wedge player, a very good putter. He won this year on tour at Pebble Beach and he’s a two-time winner now on the PGA Tour. A great guy as well as a great player. His game is trending. It wasn’t particularly where he wanted it yesterday. Much better today and if he continues on that trend, I’d like to see him playing on the weekend.”
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The other Canucks on the course this week are 2003 green jacket winner Mike Weir, who’s been playing on the Champions Tour, and British Columbia’s Adam Hawdin.
“Adam, Nick, and Corey — because they’re a little bit longer than Mike — will have a little bit better chance to have a great week,” he said. “All three of them are looking good. I mean all three of them could have a great weekend.”
But who does Ingram like to put on the green jacket on Sunday?
“I love Rory McIlroy. It’s tough to bet against him,” said Ingram. “Bryson (DeChambeau) would be interesting. He’s been obviously gearing up and he’s maybe the longest guy out here. And then as a real Canadian, I like the way Corey is playing, and he’s had a good last three or four weeks. So on the Canadian front, as a dark horse, I like Corey as well.”