AUGUSTA, Ga. – Before Patrick Cantlay gained the 2018 Memorial Tournament, he picked the mind of membership founder and former champion Jack Nicklaus. Could gaining perception into the way to play Augusta National from previous champion Fred Couples reap the identical profit?
Only time will inform, however Cantlay, World No. 10, is starting to really feel a stage of consolation at Augusta National, the place his greatest result’s a ninth-place end in 2019.
“I think I’ve tried to draw a lot on Fred Couples’ knowledge,” stated Cantlay, who teamed with Couples in a practice-round match in opposition to Xander Schauffele and Max Homa.
Cantlay received to know Couples fairly nicely in recent times after Couples moved to Newport Beach, California, not removed from the place Cantlay grew up earlier than shifting to Florida.
“We played almost every Sunday when I was home,” stated Cantlay, who famous that Couples is “much more cerebral than maybe you would imagine. I mean, people think, oh, he’s a freak, he just hits it close because he can feel it from 175. But it’s not as much that. I think instinctively he picks the right shot a lot, either a draw or a fade, and then he puts the right input into his brain.”
Cantlay competed on the U.S. Presidents Cup group in 2019, the place Couples served as a vice captain to Tiger Woods, and remembers considering that if everybody was selecting one particular person within the group room to have dinner with it might be Couples. “You could feel that,” Cantlay stated. “He’s just great.”
So has Cantlay’s golf been since October when he shot a final-round 65 to win the Zozo Championship. Cantlay trailed Dustin Johnson by one stroke heading into the weekend at the Masters in November and performed the primary three rounds alongside Johnson. But Cantlay received left within the mud on Saturday as Johnson shot 65 to his 73, and completed tied for seventeenth.
“I think he birdied maybe four of the first six or four of the first seven or something like that,” Cantlay stated. “That was impressive because the course was playing more difficult that day.”
Cantlay has completed within the top-3 twice to date this season, and arrived early to play a few apply rounds at Augusta National final week with associates.
“The more I play this place, the more I get comfortable with the shots,” Cantlay stated. “I think confidence builds on itself around here. You hit those shots really well a few times in pressure situations, and that builds that picture and reinforces it even better, and you just take that every year going forward.”
Cantlay, 29, gave the impression of a wily veteran regardless of having simply 14 aggressive rounds at Augusta National in 4 begins as he described the course as “a series of red, yellow and green lights.”
Patrick Cantlay watches his tee shot on the twelfth gap throughout a apply spherical for the Masters Tournament on Monday, April 5, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (Photo: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)
“Not as many yellows as red or greens, but when you do get on a red hole location, which would be like a back left hole location on the sixth hole, guys just aren’t making birdie to the back left hole location on the sixth hole, especially if it’s firm,” he defined.
It took a number of playings of the Masters for Cantlay to understand he didn’t must curve the ball as a lot as he imagined rising up watching the match on TV. When requested to explain a specific gap the place he has benefited from course information, he highlighted the best way he performs No. 10.
“I used to think I wanted to hit a driver like way down the first time I saw it as an amateur and get a short club in there, but a 3-wood goes almost to the same spot and it’s so much easier to hit in the fairway,” he stated. “The tee shot on 7 is kind of tough. The hole looks like a fade to me, but whenever I try and hit the fade, I always pull it in the left trees, so I just try and hit a draw down there, my normal swing.
“I almost imagined being a shot-maker almost too much, and so now just getting comfortable with more my stock shot wherever it fits. And the golf course is so big that there’s a lot of space for your stock shot.”
Count Cantlay among the many gamers who’re inspired that the course is enjoying quick and agency this yr relatively than the softer situations that prevailed in November when Johnson shot a match report 20-under 268.
“I expect it to get really firm and fast, and I think that’s when this golf course shines,” stated Cantlay, who added that he thrives when a premium is positioned on controlling the golf ball and enjoying good. “And then I love fast, old-school putting greens. And so this is the, you know, apex of that. It’s the most undulated, in general, fastest greens we play all year. It feels easier for me to make putts when it’s like that, and I look forward to that every time I come here.”