AUGUSTA, Ga. – Even though they never met, Tyler Strafaci has heard many stories about his late grandfather, Frank Strafaci Sr.
Frank Sr. was a legendary amateur who won the 1935 U.S. Amateur Public Links, two North and South Amateurs, finished ninth in the 1937 U.S. Open and played in two Masters Tournaments. Tyler, a Georgia Tech graduate who last summer won the U.S. Amateur, will make his debut at Augusta National this week.
Of course, it’s unlikely that his first Masters appearance will be anything like his grandfather’s.
“Yeah, that’s a weird one,” Tyler said of that story.
Frank Sr. was invited to compete at Augusta National in 1938, the year after his U.S. Open performance at Oakland Hills. He shot 74-74-82 before withdrawing with one round to play. He had been playing poorly, but he wasn’t hurt. Instead, with the tournament behind schedule because of rain delays, Frank Sr. pulled out in order to go qualify for the North and South.
At the time, Frank Sr. desperately wished to make the U.S. Walker Cup team, and he figured if he won the North and South it would boost his chances. He went on to win that year at Pinehurst (and the next year after that), but he ultimately never played in a Walker Cup, something Tyler will do this May at Seminole.
Frank Sr. eventually returned to Augusta National in 1950 and finished 58th, ahead of just one player who finished 72 holes. (Tyler’s father, Frank Jr., still has his dad’s contestant badge from that second Masters start.)
“It just shows how different the tournament has changed over the years where my grandfather actually withdrew from the Masters to play in a tournament other than the Masters,” Tyler said. “If I did that, I don’t think I would ever be invited back, so it’s changed a lot. It’s cool to see how it’s gone through history and just the prestige of the event. I was very shocked when I understood the reasoning why he withdrew.”