Australia’s lone Masters champion has urged debutant Min Woo Lee to ignore the ghost of Augusta National and make his own piece of history when the tournament kicks off on Thursday night AEST.
Playing his first Masters by ranking in the world’s top 50 at the end of 2021, Lee will become the first Australian to be eliminated in the opening round in Augusta, teeing off with Americans Hudson Swafford and Cameron Young at 10:55pm.
He will be followed by Australia’s main hope Cameron Smith at 12.23 with 2013 champion Adam Scott drawn with newly appointed world number one Scottie Scheffler and Tony Finau.
One of three Australians to debut this week, Lee has absorbed every ounce of Masters magic since arriving on property including Monday’s practice round with a compatriot who knows what it takes to succeed.
Scott was ninth on his own debut in 2002 but it wasn’t until 2011 that he replaced it for his best finish at The Masters, tied for second behind South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel.
So while history shows that rookies rarely win, Scott didn’t want to hold back Lee from competing.
“I told him I showed up here, clueless, and finished ninth. It’s not that difficult. Just go and play golf,” Scott said.
“I understand it’s an amazing experience to be here. (Monday) is the first day of Masters week, and Min has already played several times.
“I don’t know the game, so that’s it. He had just found a way to be comfortable for Thursday.
After Scott and Lee’s Monday round, three other Australians beat the weather by playing a back nine together on Tuesday morning.
Top five on Scott’s 2013 win and last year’s victory by Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman has long been considered the perfect Australian for Augusta and played with close friend Cam Smith and debutant Cam Davis before the storm hit.
This year also marks seven years since Leisman yearned for The Masters to be at his wife Audrey’s bedside as she battled a life-threatening illness, an experience that helps ease the anxiety others may feel every April.
“It does bring things into perspective, and I think it helps with the neural factor,” explains Leishman.
“If you play well, it’s great. If you don’t play well, it’s not like you’re going to get shot at the end of the day or anything. It’s just golf, but it’s definitely a golf tournament I really want to win.