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Mattiace gains new fans at Harbour Town

Len Mattiace gained plenty of admirers with his emotional runner-up finish at The Masters.

Mattiace lost to Mike Weir on the first hole of a playoff at Augusta National on Sunday, then broke down in tears twice as he discussed his final round.

The mix of happiness and disappointment was touching for golf fans accustomed to seemingly emotionless players.

"People came up to me and said, 'You know, the feelings that you showed after the round were really genuine and very warm. I can relate to that,'" Mattiace said Wednesday as he prepared for the MCI Heritage. "I didn't really know what I was doing. It just all came out."

Mattiace, playing in his first Masters since 1988, charged into the lead with a brilliant 65 in the final round as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were fading.

Mattiace made bogey on the 18th and finished tied with Weir. On the first hole of the playoff, Mattiace hit an awful tee shot and finished with a double-bogey while Weir won the green jacket with a tap-in bogey.

Afterward, Mattiace tried to control his emotions. But seeing too many familiar faces, he couldn't keep his feelings inside.

"If it wasn't there, it would have been in the car home," Mattiace said.

Mattiace is one of the few top finishers at Augusta to be playing this week at Harbour Town Golf Links. Woods and Mickelson are not in the field.

Mattiace received plenty of support when he returned home with his family on Monday.

"One fella I didn't even know, he came to the door and just hugged me," Mattiace said. "It's been really crazy."

The expressions of congratulations and encouragement continued at Harbour Town.

During his round in the pro-am, Mattiace posed for plenty of pictures, was asked to sign plenty of hats, flags, programs and pairing sheets.

"I've never had that happen to me before," he said.

Jonathan Byrd, who played with Mattiace in Sunday's final round, isn't surprised with the public's response.

"I like Len. I think he's a well-respected, good guy," Byrd said. "Watching Lenny, I felt for him. He played so good."

Mattiace, a two-time winner last year with victories at the Nissan Open and the FedEx St. Jude Classic, isn't feeling any pressure to prove his final round at the first major of the year was a fluke.

"I feel confident right now that I have rounds like that in me under the utmost pressure," Mattiace said.

©The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

 

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