'Wow' - Peter Malnati's First Ever Augusta National Round Exceeded Expectations After Turning Down 'More Than A Handful' Of Invites Because 'I Always Believed I Would Have This Moment'

Valspar Championship winner Peter Malnati makes his Masters debut this week, and the age 36-year-old says his first ever Augusta round exceeded expectations

Peter Malnati headshot wearing black polo and white Titleist bucket hat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Peter Malnati has been a pro since 2009 but the recent Valspar Championship winner is experiencing something new this week.

The American, 36, has finally qualified for his first Masters after turning down "more than a handful" of invites to play Augusta National over the years. He always said no to them because he believed he would qualify for The Masters, and his dream week has begun.

The two-time PGA Tour winner played 18 holes on Sunday, which was his first time ever playing the iconic Georgia course. He described his special round on Monday and it sounds like it was a day to savor.

"You know, I had so many expectations and I had heard so much that it seemed like one of those situations where it could only be a letdown because I was so incredibly excited, and it wasn't a letdown," he said.

"There's just so many times on the course where you get to a spot and you're like, wow. You just say wow.

"I think the highlight, when you hit your tee shot on 11 and you're walking to it, you get to the top of the hill, and you can see 11 green, the entire hole of 12, the azaleas hidden back toward 13 tee, the bend in the fairway on 13, so that spot from the top of the hill on 11, it's truly, for a golfer and someone who's dreamed of playing at the highest level, I had high expectations for it, and it exceeded them."

Peter Malnati plays a bunker shot

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Malnati, who has given away eight tickets per day to friends and family this week, said the reason for turning down invites to play Augusta was because he "always believed I would have this moment."

"I mean, not 10, but more than a handful [of invites he's turned down]. It's pretty cool, I have obviously amazing friends, and having spent now 10 years on the tour, I've been connected but yeah, I'm 36 now. At 36 it was still an easy no because I always believed I would have this moment," he said.

"If I got to be 46 I might have had a change of heart on that one.

"I've gotten a couple within the last two years that I said no to because I always believed I would have this moment. I joke, it's a sign of how spoiled all of us are on the PGA Tour, but I'm never, ever, ever, maybe this will change when I have adult kids and they're out of the house, but I will never take a golf vacation.

"There is no golf course cool enough for me to go because I do this 30 weeks a year and I play some of the best golf courses in the world. Now having seen this place, it might be worth it. I'm going to stand by that. I'm not going to take a golf vacation, at least not in this phase of life."

The American won his second PGA Tour title last month by two strokes at the Valspar Championship, some eight-and-a-half years after his debut victory on tour.

He ranks 69th in the world and thinks he could play well this week - if he manages to get over the fact that he's playing in The Masters.

"Honestly, if I can just get over the fact that - if I can get all my awe out of the way early in the week, my game fits the course superbly," he said.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV