golf news, Augusta National, Australians in action, preview, Cameron Smith, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman
From a former winner to the No. 6 player in the world – and three more newcomers – Australia will send six players to Augusta National for this weekend’s Masters.
Although Jason Day will be absent from the tournament following the death of a family member, the Australian contingent is sure to provide plenty of excitement for fans watching below.
Buoyed by his remarkable Players Championship win, Cam Smith looks to be the tournament’s best overall win hope, but there’s plenty of optimism surrounding the less fanciful names.
Geoff Ogilvy and Paul Gow have joined Fox Sports to preview every Aussie at Augusta.
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Age: 28 years old
USPGA Tour 2021-22 campaign: two wins and four top 10s.
Best Masters finish: T2 in 2020.
Paul Gow said: “He is the only player in Masters history to shoot all four rounds in the sixties. He was Dustin Johnson’s runner-up here. He is the fit man and has the game.
“You don’t have to drive the ball well at Augusta National. You just have to put it on the right side of the fairway, and you have to close your eyes!
Geoff Ogilvy said: “He’s looked like this player for a while… he’s just built for big tournaments. Always appears at great times. And now, he confirms it from week to week, he is one of the best players in the world.
“He must be really full of confidence. He has every chance. Only a few weeks ago he won the Players Championship, one of the toughest tournaments in the world.
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USPGA Tour 2021-22 campaign: three top 10s
Best Masters result: 2013 champion.
Ogilvy said, “He really could be our best bet. It’s a course where guys with a green jacket on their back is like a 15th club for them. They just provide a kind of extra confidence…he’s going to feel comfortable there. He knows what to expect in the back nine on Sunday. None of the other guys do.
“He hits him long, he seems to have his putting under control. And he kind of transformed over the last four years from (having) an average short game to one of the best short games in the world.
“I think he has every chance…I don’t see Scotty having a bad week. It’s his favorite place of the year so I expect him to play pretty well.
Gow added: “He hasn’t driven very well, he’s been mixing up the drivers all year. It is now on a pilot. If he puts the putter on, he’s on fire.
2021-22 USPGA Tour season: three top 10s
Best Masters ranking: T4 in 2013
Paul Gow said: “Leish has flown totally under the radar here. He played seven tournaments, he only missed a cut (at Players in brutal conditions).
“I think he’s going to have a good run. He’s 50th on the USPGA Tour on greens in regulation, he drives the ball in the 70s. If his putter gets hot, expect him to be in contention. He played well at Augusta National before.
“He’s at that age now where we expect him to win some sort of Major – and that could be at the Masters.”
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Age: 27 years old
USPGA Tour 2021-22 campaign: a top 10
Best Masters finish: Debut
Ogilvy said: “The first time there, it’s tough. It’s an experience course and it’s a course that makes you nervous. He certainly has the physical game if he can get fit – he hasn’t been fit lately.
“But with a guy with that much pedigree, it doesn’t take much (to get hot).
“It’s hard. The first time you go there, you just try to learn the place, to gain some experience.
“But if somebody can do it, they can. He’s got all the tools. He’s got the game designed for the Masters… so you never know.
Age: 26 years old
USPGA Tour 2021-22 campaign: two Top 10
Best Masters finish: Debut
Gow said, “He will embrace the Masters. He likes the occasion, he’s a guy for it. He pushes the ball long, the fairways are quite wide.
“These guys (beginners) are going to have to get closer to Adam Scott or Marc Leishman or Cam Smith who have played here many times to get that knowledge, to accelerate that knowledge.
“We know they have the game! He’s had two Top 10s this year, he won Bermuda at the end of last year – he knows he belongs on the PGA Tour. But it’s a different beast this week.
“He’s a reliable player,” he added. “If he’s confident, he doesn’t miss a shot.”
MIN WOO LEE
Age: 23 years old
USPGA Tour 2021-22 campaign: 3 events, 0 cuts made
Best Masters finish: Debut
Ogilvy said: “He’s clearly a class player, he does everything well. He hasn’t played too well in his travels this year on the Tour, he’s missed three cups.
“But it’s a tough school, the PGA Tour when you first come from Europe. It had a great year last year, winning the Scottish Open, one of the biggest tournaments in the world. ‘Europe.
“He will be ready for anything for the Masters. He’s been there before, he’s done his practice laps. He will be excited. We never know. The Masters is a bit different from a normal touring event. You get to this thing and different things can happen and people can get excited.
“If that really resonates with him and he’s in the mood, you never know. He has all the tools to do well.