Chaplet puts Costa Rica on Masters map

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 06, 2016 6:52 PM

By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - It would not have seemed odd had Paul Chaplet caddied for one of golf's greats at the Masters Par-3 contest on Wednesday but the 16-year-old turned a few heads when he reached for a club and teed it up

The youngest player at the 80th Masters would have had more in common with many of the grandchildren looping for their famous grandfathers, such as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, than with his playing companions Justin Rose and Troy Merritt.

Still, the high school senior enjoyed every moment of what has become the fun-filled family outing of Masters week before things turn serious for the opening round of the first major on Thursday.

"I've never had so much fun playing golf in my life," smiled Chaplet. "Having my cousins (here) I haven't seen in five years, and then having my little sister caddie for me, so that was fun.

"Also playing with two great players, it can't get much better than that."

The first golfer from Costa Rica to qualify for a Masters, Chaplet earned his place in the Augusta field in January by winning the Latin America Amateur Championship.

He becomes the second youngest player ever to take part in a Masters after 14-year-old Guan Tianlang of China in 2013.

"I'm feeling good. I have nothing to lose, really," shrugged Chaplet, who will be in the company of 1998 Masters champion Mark O’Meara and Swede David Lingmerth for the opening two rounds. "I'm pretty happy about where I'm at right now game wise and mental wise.

"So I'm just really looking forward to playing with Mark and David tomorrow and having a great time."

Chaplet has set no target for his first major but will certainly be trying to match Guan's performance and make the cut.

Also on his schedule this year are the U.S. and British Amateur championships and final qualifying for the U.S. Open and the British Open.

(Editing by Andrew Both)