Thorbjorn Olesen's survival guide to Augusta
1. Prepare to succeed
It’s hardly a secret but good preparation is vital.
I didn’t go to Augusta before the tournament so started my research by walking the course on Sunday without clubs. The best thing I did was playing practice rounds with some players who had played there several times – Thomas Bjorn a couple of times and also Sergio.
I picked their brains! I’m not sure you ever know it – there are guys who have played it 20 times who are still finding out stuff about it every time – but I felt comfortable when I teed off on Thursday.
2. Embrace the hype
For me it is important to keep the hype about it. It set me up better for the tournament. It’s important to keep calm in your mind but don’t be afraid of the course’s reputation.
I made that mistake on the 1st green. I hit two great shots in and was really nervous. I had heard how fast the greens were and how sloping they are and, although I had played a lot of practice rounds, I heard the courses changes on a Thursday.
So I started out, hit it 10ft short of the hole and three putted it. Because I was so scared of the greens.
3. Don’t Panic
From there, I shot a 78, and people were probably thinking it was yet another rookie who struggled at Augusta. But it was probably the only time I have come off the course and been positive after a 78. I felt I played really well. I knew it suited my eye.
4. Stay sharp to avoid mistakes
And then I played really good golf. The only errors were two quick bogeys on 10 and 11 on the Friday. Just a couple of slightly bad swings and those shots went so quickly.
But I stayed positive and told myself it was just Augusta, and it hits you hard sometimes. I knew I could shoot a score if I cut out the tiny mistakes.
5. Be brave off the tee
There are wide fairways, but also some narrow ones – probably more than there used to be. So there are a few tight tee shots, but more importantly there are tee shots like 10 and 13 where you must be brave and take the line where you get the run on the correct part of the fairway.
The 1st too. Be brave off the tee and it will help your second shots, which is what makes your score there. You have to plot a route back from the hole at the Masters more than any other tournament.
6. Defensive but aggresive
I had a mentality of ‘defensive targets but aggressive shots’. You have to be professional, almost negative, about where you are going to hit your approaches because you can so easily be caught out.
Hit the right spot on the green it will go close for you but equally if you hit the wrong spot it will take the ball away from the hole.
You can get yourself in big trouble – and Thomas helped me a lot with that. You are better to be 20ft away but on the correct side of the hole than 10ft away and on the wrong side. Definitely. Uphill putts are so important.
7. Try to win it
You’ve probably worked your whole life for it and dreamt about it since you were a boy. So you must enjoy it and appreciate being there. But you also have to go into it trying to win it.
I *think* that would be the case for most professional golfers and I really think it helps at Augusta. It’s really important to try to win it, even if it is your first time.
Top 10 is obviously a great tournament but to try to win it ensures you won’t be too afraid.