World Golf Hall of Fame Member Greg Norman finished runner-up in The Masters three times: in 1986 to Jack Nicklaus, in 1987 in a playoff to Larry Mize, and in 1996 to Nick Faldo. He arrived in Augusta yesterday and he always enjoys going over to Augusta National. People think that he has a negative association with The Masters but he has a lot of positive memories and has made a lot of friends over the years.
It is a very overwhelming thing to have the lead in The Masters and for some reason it is much higher than having the lead in any of the other Majors. There is something about the Augusta National that adds the pressure. When you have the lead, you also have a lot of media scrutiny which adds more pressure. The people who are behind the leader have less pressure because not as many people are paying attention to them. The colder weather today in Augusta should make things interesting in the second round.
Everyone wants to project to the future and think about what will happen on Sunday and that is true with players, patrons, and writers alike. Lee Westwood is in a great position right now because of the experience he has in finishing runner-up in Majors. His ball striking is great and while he is putting well right now, that could change as the week goes on and the pressure goes up and he wonders if his putting can keep up with his ball striking under pressure.
One of the best things that Rory McIlroy has is the support of his peers and when he went through tough times, he was fortunate enough to also have the support of his peers. Knowing how fortunate he was to have that support, he reached out to Rory after the 2011 Masters and told him how proud he was of how he handled the final round scrutiny and that he would be OK. Norman said he was also one of the first people to reach out to Rory when he won the U.S. Open two months later.
When asked about Tiger Woods and his first round 72, Norman said that he thinks that the problems with his driving are fixable and that Sean Foley will be able to work with Tiger and they will figure out what was wrong. He was on the Tournament Practice Range on Thursday and saw them practicing. Friday is a different day especially with the weather and he is looking forward to seeing what happens.
He feels that the 7th and 14th holes stand out among the holes most impacted by the significant changes made to Augusta National over the years. He has speaking with some of the players this week who have talked about how they are playing the holes this week. You have to control where you put your golf ball at Augusta National to allow yourself to have an advantage on your next shot and the changes impact those decisions.
An Australian has never won The Masters and he has been talking to some of the Aussies who are playing this week. He spoke with Geoff Ogilvy and Ogilvy feels good about his game. Being +2 or +3 after the first round is not a bad thing because they are still close to the lead but today is the day to make a move.
If he could have one shot back at The Masters, it is the second shot at 18 in the final round of the 1986 Masters. He was in between clubs after hitting a great drive and he took the bigger club and tried to make a relaxed swing and he ended up among the patrons. He failed to get up and down and lost to Jack Nicklaus.