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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Watching brief at Augusta
Brian Davis
By Brian Davis
European and US Tour pro

Augusta sends a chill down your spine

I'll be glued to the Masters on TV like everyone else next week - in between trips to Gatorland and SeaWorld with the family.

I didn't qualify this time after making my debut last year, a performance I'm keen to rectify.

I missed the cut by miles after a disastrous first-round 82 followed by a 73.

I wasn't nervous, I'm pretty good at treating every event the same way.

It's those greens.

You've got to be over here in America playing at least a couple of weeks beforehand to get used to the pace. The greens are three times as quick as in Europe and rock hard.

A lot of the guys have realised that which is why there's so many Europeans over here early in the season.

Every putt I faced 12 months ago seemed to have about four feet of break, downhill.

Bay Hill (20/03): T30
Honda Classic (13/03): T70
Ford Ch'ship (06/03): T44
Tucson Classic (27/02): T62
Nissan Open (20/02): 3rd
Pebble Beach (13/02): MC
FBR Open (06/02): MC
Bob Hope Classic (30/01): T14
Buick Invitational (23/01): T30

But the most important thing at Augusta is to have control of your irons.

If you're above the hole or on the wrong side of the green, you're going to struggle to get down in two.

And if you hit every approach to 40 feet, you'll be lucky to break 76.

I may not be playing this year but I'll be hoping to pick up a few tips - the course doesn't change so there's plenty you can learn for next time.

As for a winner, you've obviously got to look at the big four - Woods, Singh, Els, Mickelson - plus Retief Goosen.

On the European front, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are playing well and I reckon it could be a first-time major winner this year. My pick would be Padraig Harrington.

Tough year

I also missed out on the Players Championship, which is a shame, but probably a blessing as I was burnt out. Instead I spent the week house-hunting in Orlando.

Because I'm not fully exempt, I have to take every chance I can get to play, which is why I've competed in nine tournaments in three months, travelling everywhere with my wife Julie and young baby.

Brian Davis
For every up in this game there's 20 downs

It's tough mentally, rather than physically. I've been playing OK but I've not been fresh enough to sustain it.

In golf, you can play well for 71 holes but a mistake on the 72nd could ruin everything.

It'll be the same when I come back to Europe in May. I intend to play 11 events in a row with just one week off.

But the big difference is that I won't have too far to travel, with Wentworth right near my house, and the Forest of Arden, for example, just three hours away.

In America, I'm flying or driving sometimes 14 hours to get to the next event. Then I have to learn the course, and play the event so it becomes a seven-day-a-week job.

I was prepared for a tough year and I knew I might have to take a little step backwards to get where I want to be. Hopefully, when I'm fully exempt I can pick and choose my schedule.

My goal at the start of the year - other than winning of course - was to make sure I was exempt by the time I came back for the British Masters.

It's been said that $650,000 should be enough to keep your card for next year - I'm on $453,000 - so at the moment it's a numbers game for me.

  • Brian will be filing monthly reports from both the US and European Tour this season.

    Links to more Masters 2005 stories


    Interview: England's Luke Donald


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