Conditions at August Nationals are considerably different than last November’s COVID one-off, but it was still a bumper learning tool for one Aussie star.
Conditions at August Nationals are considerably different than last November’s COVID one-off, but it was still a bumper learning tool for one Aussie star.

Aussie star isn’t ‘scared’ of Augusta any more

Cameron Smith knows he set a new Masters scoring record in the strangest of circumstances but still heads back to Augusta National this week knowing he no longer needs to be "scared" of the course.

Last November, with the tournament moved to the cooler, pre-winter timeslot because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Queenslander Smith achieved something never seen at the Masters, shooting four rounds in the 60s.

His finishing score of 15-under was only enough for him to finish in a tie second, five shots behind the winner Dustin Johnson, but was a second dose of proof the 27-year-old Greg Norman medallist had the game to take on Augusta.

World number two Justin Thomas, who finished fourth last November, suggested the course, or some holes at least, were "easier" and the course didn't have that same April fear factor in 2020.

But with the tournament now back to its traditional April start this week, players arriving on the weekend reported a return to fast and firm conditions that can bring the best undone.

"Now this looks more like Augusta," world match play champ Billy Horschel told Masters.com.

Smith, who also finished fifth in 2018, wasn't sure if that November experience would benefit him with a return to normal conditions.

 

But he said last year's tournament did have one solid side effect when it came to his on-course attitude.

"I think you had to be more aggressive, especially on some of the pins. Sometimes you don't have to be scared of the course; a lot of people are scared of it that way," he said.

"The way the course played in November - even if it's firmer - showed me that I don't need to be.

"It was good to play Augusta National in different conditions last November. I don't know yet if that will benefit me in April."

Fellow Aussie Adam Scott, a Masters winner in 2013, said having two tournaments within six months was "exciting".

"I think it's helpful, because playing at Augusta National still feels very fresh in my mind,." he said.

"Comfort is a big thing at Augusta National because it's an intimidating venue. It will be interesting to see how it plays because I know they've done a lot of work on the course since last fall's tournament."

Scott said he learned lessons late last year that could help him this week.

"I had a new bag set up with my driver and seven wood and some other things in November," he said.

"When I finished that week, I thought to myself, OK, I need to alter a couple things, like using a stronger three wood come April."

 

 

Originally published as Aussie star isn't 'scared' of Augusta any more



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