The fine line between patience and aggression is vital at the Masters, says Paul McGinley
Last Updated: 07/04/16 2:32pm
Paul McGinley believes the key to conquering Augusta National is knowing when to attack, and when to be patient, adding the Masters champion will be the player with the fewest mistakes on his card.
Everybody talks a lot about patience, but the great thing about Augusta is, there are times to be patient, and there are times to be aggressive. What makes this venue so exciting is that there are opportunities for eagles, but one small mistake can cost you a double-bogey.
You've got to be patient, but you simply have to be aggressive when you get the chance.
But the most likely winners here are the ones that keep the mistakes to a minimum. A really interesting Masters statistic is that, since Nick Faldo won in 1996, only three champions have had a double-bogey on their cards over the week.
The average number of bogeys for each champion over the last 19 years is seven in 72 holes, so it's about finding that balance between being conservative and knowing which pins you can attack.
There are certain holes - and hole locations - where you have to play on the front foot, and that's what separated the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods from their rivals. Jack used to say: "You've got to know when to hold them, and know when to fold them." That's an accurate description of the mindset you must have to tackle Augusta.
That's also why I think you see quite a few repeat winners at the Masters, because they know when to be aggressive and when to back off, and experience here counts for so much. That's also why you don't get any first-time winners at Augusta - only Fuzzy Zoeller has managed that.
Local knowledge here is also a key factor, and the best way to prepare if you're a youngster is to practice with those who have good experience at Augusta. You need to gain as much information as you can.
You cannot attack every hole and every pin here, if you do you will crash and burn. There will be a lot of holes where you need to err on the side of caution, play for the safe part of the green regardless of where the flag is, makes sure of your two-putt and get to the next tee.
Last year the course was set up very favourably for good scoring. Conditions were a little softer and slower than normal, the banks sloping towards the water at 12 and 15 were not cut down as much as in previous years and Jordan Spieth matched Tiger's winning score of 18 under.I think we'll see a different story this year. The course will be set up a little tougher, but the big factor this week is going to be the weather. It was very calm 12 months ago, but the forecast is for more blustery conditions, with winds gusting up to 20mph for most of the four days.