To date, the closest Atlanta-based realtor Scott Stallings has ever been to Augusta National is a nearby Costco.
Despite years of trying, he had never been able get his hands on a ticket to watch the prestigious Masters tournament at the fabled course. As a golf fan from Georgia, attending the major remained an unticked bucket list item.
Finally, on New Year’s Eve, a breakthrough. Thanks to a letter in the post to his condo in St. Simons Island, Stallings was going to The Masters.
But not to watch. To compete.
Weeks later, some 4,600 miles (7,400 kilometers) away at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, three-time PGA Tour winner Scott Stallings was wondering why his 2023 Masters invite was taking so long to arrive.
A remarkable series of coincidences had led to a case of mistaken identity fit for Hollywood. If it was to be a movie script, surely the next step was for the realtor to grab his clubs and try his luck come at the Masters in April?
“I had a twinkle in my eye just playing it out in my head,” Stallings admitted to CNN’s Don Riddell. “It’s like the golden ticket for Willy Wonka.
“I have an I.D. with my name on it, the invitation with my name on it – what’s to stop me from going to those gates?”
It was a fleeting thought, however, as the realtor Stallings quickly realized how the mix-up had occurred.
For years, he had closely followed the career of his pro-golf namesake. If the golfer was performing particularly well at an event, “Stallings 2.0” would often post a picture of the leaderboard to his social media to show how well “he” was doing.
But when the real estate agent and his wife Jennifer reached out to his counterpart via Instagram to tell him about the mistake, the golfer was skeptical. It was only when they added picture evidence of the letter – signed by Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley – and the sleek Masters green envelope it had arrived in, that the invite’s intended recipient was convinced.
When the golfer subsequently posted screenshots of the conversation to Twitter, for his namesake, “the firestorm began.” With upwards of 22 million views and 150,000 likes, the post sent the Stallings viral. Floods of comments called on the pro-golfer to take his namesake to Augusta for the tournament.
Golfer Stallings went one better, inviting the realtor and Jennifer to attend both practice rounds, as well as to dinner with himself and his wife – incredibly, also named Jennifer – while they’re in town.
“Scott Stallings the golfer is just a great person,” the realtor said. “It really is like winning the lottery.”
The fact that the Stallings’ wives share the same first name is merely one more extraordinary coincidence in the pair’s story.
Even more unlikely, realtor Stallings’ St. Simons condo just happens to be next to the former headquarters of a management company that golfer Stallings had been attached to the last time he competed at The Masters, in 2014.
According to the realtor, though the management company had since moved, tournament organizers hadn’t updated their records and sent the invitation to the old address. When UPS came to deliver it, knowing of a nearby Stallings, they posted the letter to the condo.
“Just unbelievable, surreal,” the realtor said. “I think this would be a good movie. I’m just waiting for Spielberg to call so we can work out a deal.”
The script’s happy ending was confirmed by golfer Stallings last week. In a video shared to social media, he jubilantly collects the forwarded invitation from his mailbox before presenting the letter to the camera.
“Told you I didn’t have it,” wife Jennifer jabs as the video ends.
But realtor Stallings is forecasting one more twist of fate from lady luck. A resurgent Rory McIlroy will likely arrive in Augusta among the favorites of a star-studded field, yet the golf fan is casting an against-the-odds prediction.
You guessed it, Scott Stallings, World No.54: The Masters champion 2023.