Accuracy from the tee is underrated, and has become more necessary over the years but with approach shots it is absolutely essential.
“If you’re off with your tee shots, then you’re going to have a really long day,” explains the 2013 champion, Adam Scott. “But if you’re off with your iron play from the fairway, you’re going to have a long day on the greens putting from 40ft and not giving yourself a lot of chances.
“There are great opportunities here at this course but if the mistakes are made in the wrong areas, there’s a disaster waiting to happen on every shot.”
You cannot force anything around Augusta National. Rather, it is a case of taking opportunities when they arrive. And they will only arrive with a calm mindset.
The Forgotten Story of … the 1966 Masters
“You’ve always got to be patient when you’re playing major championships, and at Augusta in particular,” says Henrik Stenson. “It’s just that the margins for error are so small.
“I think the patience is even more necessary if you end up in trouble. You want to try and minimise it, make a bogey. Double bogeys are always hard to make up for in majors.
“And also, if you don’t get on a good run, you’ve just got to stay patient because you will have a good run at some point if you’re going to have anything to do with the final outcome.”
With the greatest will in the world, not many kids grow up harbouring a dream of winning the US PGA Championship. The iconic status of the Masters, even the Green Jacket itself, places an inevitable mental burden upon those who find themselves in Sunday contention.
Jason Day has spoken of wanting the Masters too much, to his detriment. Sandy Lyle, who won in 1988, adds: “Trying to win any major is stomach-churning. I had a two shot lead at the turn here and I am thinking: ‘Here we go, it’s all over in the next two-and-a-half hours.’
“It’s being like in a waiting room at the dentist. Your stomach is turning over at the thought of knowing you are going to have a painful experience. That’s about as a good way I can explain it.”
Augusta’s greens are notoriously quick and sloping. As Rory McIlroy puts it: “Sometimes you have 5ft left and would be happy with a two-putt.”
The Joy of Six: The Masters
Being blunt, it is impossible to win without putting well over four days. When you putt brilliantly, as shown by Jordan Spieth last year, there is scope for seriously low scoring.
“On Masters week, there is a progression with the greens,” says the 2007 champion, Zach Johnson. “The roll-out becomes more and more. It may not be drastic but there is a couple of feet difference on roll-out of putts. Every year when I get here, my focus is on work on the greens; as it should be.”
5: Par fives
Holes 2, 8, 13 and 15 historically play as the easiest on Masters week. Taking advantage of the chances as presented here can define a player’s position.
“There are no longer any holes outside of the par fives that are easy birdies, other than the 3rd,” explains Phil Mickelson. “The par fours now are so long and tough, that you’re coming in with mid and long irons more often than short irons. We used to hit a lot of wedges in here and now we don’t.
“That’s why the par fives are such a critical element; they give you momentum and opportunities. They’re the only ones that you’re going to have easy putts for birdies. You’re going to have to make a lot of 20- to 40-footers to make birdies on the other holes. So you have to play them smart and effective to be able to shoot under par here.”