AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Former Tennessee Tech golfer Scott Stallings has been ready for this moment for a long, long time.
The Golden Eagle All-American, Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and PGA Tour champion will tee off Thursday at 1:09 p.m. EDT on hole No. 1 at Augusta National Golf Club in his first Master's Tournament.
Stallings is scheduled to play his second round Friday morning at 10:02 a.m. EDT. ESPN will present live coverage of the tournament from 2-6:30 p.m. during each of the first two rounds Thursday and Friday. National television coverage of the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday will be on CBS.
Stallings is one of 15 rookies in the field of 99 players aiming for the 2012 Master's championship and the right to wear the famous green jacket. He qualified for the Master's by capturing the championship at the 2011 Greenbrier Classic.
A native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Stallings was one of the most decorated players in Tennessee Tech and Ohio Valley Conference golf history during his playing career from 2002 to 2006.
Keep up with Scott's play in the Master's via Tennessee Tech Athletics' official Twitter feed (@TTUGoldenEagles) and on TTUsports.com.
Feature story by David Westin, Augusta Chronicle
Scott Stallings to use lucky pencil from Augusta National
Augusta National Golf Club was ready for Scott Stallings when he made his first visit to play the course in December.
The club knew that the Masters Tournament rookie had used one of its green 3-inch Augusta National pencils to keep his playing partners' score and sign his scorecard on the PGA Tour since finding it in early July.
On checking in at the pro shop that day in December, two gifts were waiting for Stallings – an Augusta National yardage book and a cardboard box full of Augusta National pencils.
"They knew my story," Stallings said. "They're pretty much well aware of everything."
Golf fans also have been sending Stallings Augusta National pencils since he won the Greenbrier Classic on July 31 and revealed that he had been using the Augusta National pencil.
"I've got about 500 of them now," he said.
Many of the pencils are in his golf bag, said his caddie, Josh Graham.
But Stallings continues to use the original pencil, the one Graham found before the first round of the John Deere Classic last July 10.
The writing on it is wearing off, however, and the pencil's days are numbered.
"It's hanging on for dear life," said Stallings, who uses it only for tournament rounds, not pro-ams. "It only says National Golf Club. Augusta is (almost) gone. I sharpen it with a knife, and it's down to almost nothing."
It will be a special moment Thursday when Stallings uses it to sign his scorecard in the first round of the Masters.
"It's going to be awesome," he said. "I'm going to use the pencil that kind of motivated me to get to the Masters in the Masters."
The motivation worked, and quickly. Three weeks after Graham found the pencil in a box of pencils on the first tee before the first round of the John Deere Classic, Stallings won the Greenbrier Classic, making a 7-foot birdie on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
"People can say it's an omen," Stallings said. "People can say it's a lot of different things. It was something we looked at every single day. It was kind of a motivating factor. That was the goal we had, to try to get to where we wanted to go."
Said Graham: "We found it and thought it was kind of neat. I told him, 'Let's use it as motivation.' Maybe it worked. Maybe he was just playing good."
Stallings has taken advantage of qualifying for the Masters. Participants for the following year's tournament can play the course when it's open (from mid-October to late May) as often as they wish. Stallings took four scouting trips.
"It was one of the most surreal experiences of my entire life," he said of his first visit. "It is incredible. It's a dream come true. It's definitely something I want to be part of for a long time."
The visits also served another purpose than just learning the course, he said.
"Just to try to get the awe factor out of it is the biggest goal as far as being there so when you get to the tournament you can play and compete in a golf tournament rather than sitting there worrying about the fact you're playing at Augusta National and in the Masters," Stallings said. "The more and more experience and the more time you can spend on the golf course the better.
"But at the end of the day, it's still the Masters. No matter how many times you go play it, you still have a special feeling, just knowing what it took to get there and what it represents and you being a part of it."