AUGUSTA — Team Kisner was out in full force Thursday for the opening round of the Masters Tournament.
The Aiken professional’s entourage included Kevin’s wife, Brittany; daughter, Kate; his parents and his in-laws.
Kisner, playing in his sixth Masters, opened with a round of even-par 72. It was a solid start on a warm, sunny day that featured Augusta National Golf Club playing firmer and more difficult than in recent years.
Thursday was a special day for Kate, the Kisners’ 6-year-old daughter. It was her first time on the “big course,” but she has been to the Par 3 Contest in the past.
After Kisner teed off on the second hole, he made his way over to the gallery ropes. Kate saw her father and cried out “Daddy” and went running for a hug.
"Thank you for coming," Kisner told her. "Love you."
Kisner could only bring his wife in 2020 as the Masters was delayed because of COVID-19, and no patrons were allowed because of the pandemic.
His family was grateful they could attend this year.
"It’s everything you could wish for as a parent," Kisner’s mom, Christy, said. "To see your child fulfill his dreams."
Kisner got off to a dream start with birdies at Nos. 2 and 10 and the rest pars. Then he made what he called a "bone-headed mistake" at the par-4 11th, which led to a triple bogey.
His tee shot was flirting with the right tree line, and he tried to cut it into the water-guarded hole. It hit a tree branch and wound up on pine straw, and his third shot chased across the green and into the pond.
"I knew I shouldn't have tried the shot, but I was feeling good," he said. "Then I put myself in a position – you know, you probably walk away with a 10-footer for par every time if you lay up there, and I'm putting a 12-footer for double."
After a bogey at the 12th, Kisner made up for it with an eagle at the 13th. He hit a 4-iron from 223 yards to 15 feet and drained the eagle putt.
He sank a 38-foot birdie putt at the 16th to go under par again, but gave it back with a bogey at the 17th. He missed a short birdie at the 18th to finish at even par.
"I think it's really cool how it was playing. I hope we don't get any rain," Kisner said. "It's a super stressful grind is the best way to describe it.
"I hit the golf ball as good today as I have in a couple years and walk away with even par. So that will tell you how much of a grind it is."
Even after a stressful day on the course, Kisner’s face lit up when he hugged Kate again after he had completed the round.
"She got a couple of hugs today, which was special," Brittany Kisner said.
Kate got kudos from the Kisner family for completing all 18 holes for the first time. She received a "Shirley Temple" drink with extra cherries as a reward.
"I bet she's going to have a good nap on the way home, and I won't have to talk her into going to bed tonight," Kisner said.