ADAM SCOTT and JASON DAY will spearhead Australia’s six man challenge at what should be an enthralling 2012 US Masters.
The pair were joint runners-up in what was an edge-of-the-seat finish at Augusta National last year and we can only hope for more of the same – if not one better.
Australia also boasts the joint 4th placegetter from last year in US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy, an in-form John Senden, the prodigiously talented Aaron Baddeley and leading amateur Bryden Macpherson.
The Australians have of course been flying very much under the radar in what is being touted as a Rory McIlroy versus Tiger Woods showdown.
In all there are 97 golfers due to tee off early Friday Australian time and there probably isn’t one of them, including the six amateurs, who at least doesn’t secretly harbour the idea they have the talent to pull on the green jacket come Sunday.
It is the fifth largest field in Masters history and includes 50 golfers from outside the US, representing 18 nations. As well as the six amateurs there are 15 first-time Masters players.
Scott has played just nine PGA Tour rounds this year
Adam Scott isn’t fazed by the fact he is going into the first golf Major of the year with only nine competitive rounds under his belt for the year, the fewest of any Tour player in the field.
[quote]“I don’t think I need to play a lot to be competitive and be sharp”[/quote]
“I don’t think I need to play a lot to be competitive and be sharp,” Scott said this week. “Being fresh is very important and getting enough time to prepare properly, especially for major championships, is important.”
In fact he has played only a few less than last year – due to having his tonsils out earlier this year – when he went on to tie for second.
The Queenslander almost became the first Australian to win a Masters when he arrived at the 17th hole on Sunday with a one shot lead.
He parred the last two holes but was overtaken by eventual winner Charl Schwartzel who birdied the last four holes.
Scott’s performance that day has convinced him he has the game to win.
“Normally, that is pretty good,” Scott said. “What happened last year was extraordinary by Charl. I’m not disappointed with anything I did that day. Under the pressure, I played some really good golf coming in.”
Scott has been working particularly on his chipping and putting – aspects he believes will be crucial at Augusta – at the Albany Golf Club in the Bahamas, where he is building a home.
“There’s only one guy here this week that I saw work as hard as me,” Scott said a little tongue in cheek.
That’s because there was only one other person he saw regularly practicing in his new Bahamas sanctuary – Tiger Woods. Some guys just do it tough.
Day lying low
Jason Day is another Aussie golfer going quietly about his business.
“There’s going to be a lot of hype,” Day said after his first practice round at Augusta this week. “Hopefully we can have another exciting finish like we did last year. But I kind of like flying under the radar. It’s kind of nice. Not many people are paying attention to me, which is nice. I can just go and do my work and get out and just go about my business and not really worry about any other distractions that obviously can happen here.”
This will be the young Australian’s second only Masters after his stunning debut last year when he shot a 64 in the second round, the equal-lowest round in the tournament’s history by a first-timer, and was in contention right till the death.
“I can’t remember any of my rounds last year,” he said. “It’s hard to explain, but I really can’t remember. I may have short-term memory loss! I was just so focussed on what I needed to do. I think pretty much after I finished the 72nd hole I really was just ‘wow, I really played great’. To birdie the last two holes was just amazing, and there was no better feeling that I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
Day admits he has been a little flat this year, but there’s nothing like the Masters to get the juices pumping.
“For me, this is the holy grail, to win this tournament. I would love to win this tournament one day. I do believe an Australian will win it soon. In Australian sports, we have conquered a lot of different sporting events around the world. This is one of the last few that we would like to get to.”
[quote]”I’m playing the best golf of my life.” Bryden Macpherson.[/quote]
Just as excited is 21-year-old Melbourne amateur Bryden Macpherson who got his start by winning the British amateur championship last year.
He confirmed that form by beating US amateur champion Kelly Kraft in the Georgia Cup, a match between the winners of the two big world amateur titles in Atlanta last week.
“I’m playing the best golf of my life,” Macpherson said.
And as for his chances this week: “We’ll see what happens.”