2017 Masters Preview

One of the great weeks of my year comes when I arrive in Augusta, Ga., in April. Next to the Canadian Open, this is probably the tournament I enjoy the most. It’s a great honour to be able to come back here every year and to play the Masters tournament.

This year has been especially great having some Canadian company here at the Masters. Adam and Mackenzie are exceptional golfers and have earned their place here in the field, just as I did many years ago.

After watching them both win tournaments earlier in the season, I reached out to them and invited them to play a practice round together. It was a great feeling to have three Canadians playing together at the Masters on Tuesday. I was told that it was the first time since 1968 that we’ve had three Canadian golfers in the field. That’s too long but I’m glad we’re getting there.

Playing with them was a lot of fun. I tried to teach them all the things I’ve learned over the years playing with guys like Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara. As a rookie, this is a tough golf course to try and understand in just a few rounds. Heck, I’ve played more than 100 rounds here and I’m still learning. There are a lot of subtleties and nuances that you don’t often see the first few times.

I have to admit that they were pretty well versed in the course already. They’ve both obviously done a lot of work and talked to some of the local caddies to get knowledge. But they still asked a lot of good questions.

Some of the toughest parts of playing Augusta National aren’t about the breaks on the greens but on how you deal mentally with what this course throws at you. It’s very easy to compound a mistake here, to turn a bogey into a double or more, just by trying to quickly make up for a mistake. That’s another lesson I tried to impart to both Adam and Mackenzie. Everyone is going to get bad breaks, everyone is going to get hurt by the gusting winds that are expected. You have to expect, accept and move on.

Of course I’m here not just as a teacher but also as a player. I’ve been working hard on my game this year and I feel good about where I am ahead of Thursday’s first round. On Tuesday I made quite a few birdies and drove it pretty well.

This course is pretty long for me these days so I’ll have to capitalize on driving it in the fairway and then taking advantage of my short game and my knowledge.

For me, the Masters is about much more than just what happens inside the ropes. On Tuesday I went to the Champions Dinner, which is always a wonderful evening. Last year’s winner, Danny Willett put on a great spread and it was nice to catch up with some of the winners from through the years. It was sad that this was the first one to be held without Arnold. He used to be one of the cornerstones of the dinner, looked up to by everyone in the room. We all miss him and it will feel different seeing the ceremonial tee-off without him taking part.

And today, I had a special moment playing in the Par 3 contest when I made a hole-in-one! I’m not sure who was more excited – me or my girlfriend and caddie Michelle!

I also have a great many friends here who make this week special when I’m not at the course. We have great meals and tell lots of stories, which has become somewhat of a tradition. It’s a week unlike any other for sure – lots of fun and memories, with more created each year.

I’m hoping for a good week when I tee off on Thursday and I will be paying special attention to how both Adam and Mackenzie do. This is a good week for Canadian golf and I’m happy to playing the Masters once again.

Thanks for your support,