The Masters - Review
I’m back home after a very disappointing couple of weeks; the final round in Houston wasn’t so bad but missing the cut at the Masters was extremely disappointing. It is never nice missing a cut but to miss at a major championship generally feels a lot worse than a regular tournament. It’s probably because there are only four of them in the year so missing one means that you have to wait a while before you get the chance to play the next. I now have to wait till the US Open at Pebble Beach in June for the next major.
I missed the cut because I just didn’t play well, particularly on Thursday. I struggled right from the first on day one when I hit my drive into the bunker. I made par but I never felt comfortable, then I continued to hit poor tee shots which meant I struggled to make pars. No matter how much I tried I just couldn’t get comfortable - I was battling hitting a bad shot every time I stood over the ball. It is hard to play golf when you are feeling like this, although I did manage to hole some good putts during the round to keep myself in it, but only just as the scoring was very good. I made several bogies and a double bogey on the seventh but I also managed to make a few birdies. I was one over playing the 18th and hoping to get it back to level but my drive hit a tree and dropped down behind a bush. I was only able to chip it out sideways which was towards the second green and leave myself about 300 yards out. I hit a 3 wood up to 60 yards short of the green and got it up and down for a bogey to finish on two over. Considering how I played it was actually a good 74.
The second day was a much tougher day as the pin positions were much harder. Over night the cut was looking like level par but with the tougher pins it was always going to move out. I played a good bit better than Thursday but I wasn’t able to improve my scoring and this time I shot three over par for the round. I stood on the last four over par for the tournament thinking that it might have a chance of making the cut if it got a bit windier in the afternoon. In the end it didn’t matter as I bogeyed it to finish on five over and two outside the cut.
I stayed on for the weekend to practice and try and iron out the problems I had during the week. I knew that I had a couple of things that needed work but I didn’t want to get technical during the tournament as I never play well when I am working on my swing. I practiced on the new practice ground as it is a great facility and the weather was perfect. I definitely got some good work done, so much so that I left feeling much better about myself, still disappointed but feeling much more positive than I was on Friday. I have two weeks off now so I will see Bob Torrance and we will do a bit of work on my swing. The main thing is for me to be ready to play and feeling good about my game before I head to Quail Hollow.
I did watch the golf on Sunday; it was a great final day. I was disappointed for Lee as he played very well but just came up against a hot Phil. With all Phil and his family have been through in the last year it was a great win and I don’t think there would be anyone that begrudges him winning his fourth major. All in all it was a great tournament. I would love to have been involved on Sunday afternoon but there is nothing that I can do about that now. I know what I have to work on for the next two weeks so as to be ready for my next run of events.
The Masters - Preview
The first major of the year has finally arrived, after seven months of waiting we are in Augusta for the Masters. As a kid I watched the Masters on television and it was considered the start of the golfing season, now a days the season starts much earlier; in fact it never really ends. By the time we get to this week we have all played tournament golf for nearly three months. I am coming here after playing seven tournaments already even though it only feels like my season is starting.
This is one of my favourite tournaments of the year, I love the course and the test that it sets us but I also really enjoy coming here and the atmosphere. It’s great coming back to the same place every year as you get a good feel for everything, I almost feel like a local when I am here. The best thing about coming back is playing the course. The first time around it each year you are looking at every little thing to see if it has changed, it is usually very hard to see the changes as they put everything back as if nothing has happened.
Over my years coming here there have been a number of changes to the course and how it plays; the funny thing is that there have probably been as many changes in my swing and how I play the game. This course has probably had more to do with the changes in my swing than any other; the reason for this is that Augusta National is like an examination. I have been found out a number of times over the years and so I have gone away and used what I saw here to help me move forward as a player.
I am coming into this years Masters feeling good about myself and the preparation I have done over the last couple of months. Normally when I get here I am wishing that I had played a few more tournaments so that I would be sharper but this year I feel I have found the right balance. I have played seven events prior to this week and I feel that I have improved as each week has gone by. I have had some good results in the tournaments I have played and I have had some disappointments, last week for instance. However disappointing last week was I also took a lot from it and that will help me this week. It reminded me how important my routines and my preparation are and as a result I have done a lot of work on this side of the game this week.
Having played in a number of Masters now I know that I don’t have to kill myself hitting balls in practice. I have played 36 holes over the three days and done a bit of work with Bob Rotella each day. At this stage of my career I know that the most important thing for a week like this is to be mentally fresh, at the end of the day it will come down to making the right decisions more so than hitting the ball great. I would definitely take making the right decision over striking it great any day, especially around this course.
The big talking point so far this week has been Tigers return; I think it’s great to see him back competing again. I haven’t really seen him other than in the distance on the range. The good thing about him coming back is that he will have the first one over and done with and everything will move on. I think the players, fans and everyone are happy to see him back and happy for the game of golf which is the main issue.
As always with the Masters I can’t wait for it to start, I have been waiting so long for it to come around that I just want to get going. I am happy with how my build up and preparation has gone and feel comfortable with how I am playing. The main thing is to get to Sunday afternoon and give yourself a chance for the green jacket. If I can get myself into contention with nine holes to go then I will take my chances from there. As they say it doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday.