Your step-by-step guide to winning the Masters

By Jason SobelApril 3, 2012, 2:38 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – So, you want to win the Masters? That’s easy. All you have to do is follow these few simple instructions.

It all starts with the tee shot.

You’ve got to hit it long here. Like, Superman long. Ever since this track was beefed up, big bombers hold a major advantage over their pea-shooting peers. Grip it and rip it, tee it high and let it fly.

That’s the key to winning this tournament.

Well … actually, there’s one more thing.

I mean, you can’t hit it long and crooked. That’s no good. No, there’s a premium on accuracy here, so long and straight obviously works much better.

And there you go. Drive it long and straight for four rounds, then proceed directly to Butler Cabin to pick up your green jacket.

Oh, sorry. Just one more thing.

With a few holes bending right-to-left, it really helps to hit a draw on this course.

So that’s long, accurate and with a right-to-left ball flight. Got it? Good.

Then again, there are some holes on which a cut works just as well – if not better.

So make that long and accurate, with draws and fades. Easy as that.

Really, though, it’s a second-shot golf course. Precise approach shots are of the utmost importance to finding success, because you need to put yourself in the proper position to have a makeable birdie attempt.

“I think it's a lot about second shots here,” said Jason Day, who finished in a share of second place last year. “If you placed them right, [you can] walk off at the end of the week saying the greens were slow, if you can leave yourself under the hole. If you short side yourself and leave yourself downhill putts or downhill chips, you're going to struggle.”

Makes sense, right?

OK, great. To review: Hit it long and straight off the tee, be able to work it both ways and make sure you have perfect iron play. No problemo.

Of course, not every iron shot will be perfect. The important thing is that when you miss, you need to miss in the right places, rather than leave yourself in a precarious position.

Ben Hogan once famously said of the 11th hole, 'If you ever see me on this green in two, you'll know I missed my second.' Similar theories apply today.

“You need to know where you can miss shots around here,” explained Webb Simpson, who is making his Masters debut, but first played the course as a 12-year-old. “It's so hard to be precise on every hole and there are just certain places – front left pin on 1, if you hit it left – you're going to make five or six. There are certain holes where you cannot get it up-and-down and you just have to know where you can chip the ball close and hopefully get up-and-down for pars.”

Well, duh. That’s pretty sensible stuff.

So again, the key to winning is long, straight, draws, fades, perfect iron play and miss ‘em in the right spots. That’s everything, right?

Not exactly.

On those rare occasions when you do miss the green – in the right places, of course – decisive chipping is of the utmost priority. After all, you can’t get up and down without getting the “up” part sorted out.

Let’s amend: That’s now long, straight, draw, fade, don’t miss, miss right and chip like a champ.

And there you go. Your tricks to winning the Masters. Just follow each step and … what’s that?

Ohhh, right. Your ball still isn’t in the hole.

OK, one more ingredient for the recipe, but without it, this would be like a bundt cake without the bundt. That, of course, is putting – and according to some competitors, it’s the most imperative aspect of them all.

“The margin of error is so incredibly small here, because of the speed of the greens,” said Rory Sabbatini, who finished in a share of second place five years ago. “A power lip-out can create a three-putt when you really didn’t hit a poor putt in the first place.”

Finally – yes, finally – we have completed our secret to success at Augusta National. Add it up and you’ll find that all it takes to win here is bombing the ball off the tee, finding plenty of fairways, working the ball left, working it right, hitting precise iron shots, missing in the right spots, controlled chipping and flawless putting.

If that sounds like an untenable proposition, there’s good reason: It is. 

Only on the rarest occasions in the tournament’s history has a Masters champion perfected each of these attributes during competitive play.

It’s an important message to recall in the days leading up to this week’s edition of the event. Anytime a name is dismissed because the player doesn’t hit it long enough or doesn’t work the ball right to left or isn’t proficient enough from around the greens, remember that nobody does everything perfectly.

And therein lies the one secret ingredient to winning the Masters – and it’s the only one that matters. The simple truth is, there is no secret ingredient.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.