Heath Slocum quick to make Masters mark

By: corthing


They are one-time high school team-mates. They are close friends. But please don’t compare Heath Slocum, who dresses in Calvin Klein, with Boo Weekley, the man with the hunting camouflage long-sleeve shirts.
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“Personality-wise,” said Slocum, “we are salt and pepper, and could not be any more different. But we have common interests and both love to play golf.” In his first Masters round, Slocum, 34, played well, shooting a one-under-par 71 after briefly moving to the top of the leaderboard.
“It was nice,” conceded Slocum, seeing his name where no one expected, “but there’s a long way to go. What I wanted to do was get off to a good start. I’m happy with anything under par.”
Milton, Florida is a working class and military city in the Panhandle some 20 miles from Pensacola. Milton High has around 1,900 students. Three of those former students, Slocum, Weekley and Gerry ‘Bubba’ Watson, are on the PGA Tour. And all in the Masters.
Tyler Heath Slocum, who has no nicknames like Boo (real name Thomas) or Bubba, and prefers to use his middle name, was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and moved to Milton when his father, Jack, became pro at Tanglewood County Club there.
Heath turned pro 12 years ago but didn’t get on Tour until 2001. He won a couple of lesser events, the Tucson tournament and the Accenture in 2004, then the next year the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, but it wasn’t until 2007 he became a factor.
He teamed with Weekley in that year’s World Cup where they lost in a play-off to Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie and Marc Warren. A few months earlier Slocum qualified for the Masters by finishing 30th in the FexEx Cup play-offs.
In his opening round here, Slocum was paired with Fuzzy Zoeller, who in 1979 became only the second golfer to win the Masters at his first attempt. But even when Slocum was leading there were no grandiose thoughts.
“I knew he won his first time, but I mean, honestly, it’s such a long way,” reminded Slocum. “So far ahead of me, So far ahead it doesn’t even pop into my head. I was just doing everything I could to shoot what I shot. It’s a very demanding course for me.”
For everyone. Zoeller shot 81. The third man in their grouping which, like all, was delayed 45 minutes because of morning fog, was Brett Wetterich, who had a 73.
Slocum had four birdies and three bogeys, the last, unfortunately, on the 18th hole when he three-putted. “I knew the first putt was going to be slow,” he sighed. “I had hit that putt countless times in practice. But you hit it in the tournament and leave it 10 feet short.”
As opposed to the putt he hit finishing the front nine, on a green that seems not to end until the middle of the ninth fairway. Slocum tapped his down-hiller.
“Just tried to tickle it,” he said with a laugh. “It was gone as soon as I hit it. Oh, no.”
Oh yes, two three-putts, Augusta’s evil greens had him coming and going.
About his relationship with Boo, Slocum, shrugs and insists, “Not everybody in Milton plays golf in camouflage shirts. I’ve put on the camouflage as well to hunt, but I don’t generally play golf in it.”
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