AUGUSTA, Georgia (AFP) ― Korea’s Lee Chang-woo, the Asia-Pacific amateur champion bolstered by an Augusta practice round with countryman Choi Kyung-ju, is confident of making the cut at this week’s Masters.
The 20-year-old, appearing in his first Masters, has already won a title on the Korean tour and finished second to Rory McIlroy in the Korean Open.
After touring Augusta National with Choi, who is playing this year on his last invitation from winning the 2011 Players Championship, and studying videos, Lee is confident of becoming the fourth Asian amateur winner in five attempts to make the Masters cut.
|Korea’s Lee Chang-woo tees off during a practice round on Monday. (EPA-Yonhap)|
“I was watching a lot of videos of the Masters for the past few months and just image training about which holes I could actually make a birdie, so yes, I actually am quite confident in making the cut,” Lee said.
“My first goal here is to make the cut, and after that, I wish to (finish) in the low 20s.”
Lee has already learned there’s far more to Augusta National than television can show.
“The fairways were narrower than I saw on television and the greens were way faster than I ever imagined, so I had a pretty hard time at first when I came to the course last week,” Lee said.
Choi, making his 12th Masters start with a best-ever showing of third in 2004, can take some credit for showing Lee some secrets of Augusta National.
“Today, going out on the course with K.J. Choi, he gave me lots of advice about course management and everything, so I think I’m getting used to the course,” Lee said.
“He gave me lots of advice, like on the par-5s, just try to make a second shot for the third to get an easier approach shot. And like the directions of the tee shots and where the pin positions might actually be at the tournament.”
Lee, still a student in Korea, says he has found Asian players emphasize the short game more than Americans or Europeans and that can help at Augusta.
“I think that the Asian players are not as strong in distance than the players in the United States or in Europe, but they work hard on their short games,” Lee said.
“I think working hard on the short games is pretty much more important than the distance, especially here.”
Lee expects to have five or six rounds at Augusta National before the Masters begins on Thursday.
“It’s a great honor to be here,” Lee said. “Playing in the Masters is everyone’s dream. And since I’m representing the Asia-Pacific region, I’ll do my best to make a performance.”
Lee says the other players he hopes to meet and learn from this week are reigning Masters champion Adam Scott, 2009 winner Angel Cabrera of Argentina, who lost to Scott in a playoff last year, and American Brandt Snedeker.
“Scott, he has the favorite swing, I just love his swing,” Lee said.
“Snedeker, he has a wonderful routine and I just want to feel it as a player on the same team with him. And Cabrera, since he was so strong in the Masters, I just want to know how he could do it and I just want to learn from him.”