Ben An Blog

Masters reflections and looking forward to a Wentworth return

The first major championship of 2017 is now behind us and it was another wonderful Masters. Any touring professional will tell you how special it is to receive one of the coveted Masters Tournament invitations in the New Year and I had been looking forward to teeing up at Augusta since I secured my place by ending 2016 inside the World’s top 50 ranked players.

I had played in the Masters twice before, once as an amateur in 2010 and as a professional last year. I was injured in the run up to last year’s tournament, which took the shine off the event, but this year, fit and healthy, I couldn’t wait to get started!

I arrived on the Sunday afternoon before the tournament week. Every year, the Augusta National Golf Club makes subtle changes to the venue and this year saw the addition of the new media centre, which is incredible. It’s located at the end of the driving range and is accessible via a tunnel under the range. What’s amazing is that they could build it so quickly between tournaments.

For the players, preparation for the tournament was more challenging than usual. Monday afternoon was wiped out due to thunderstorms and although we had a perfect day on the Tuesday, Wednesday was also a wash out and it saw the popular par 3 contest being cancelled for the first time in history. Thankfully for me, my previous two appearances at Augusta, plus a really good practice on Tuesday, helped me to feel prepared when I teed up on Thursday morning.

I battled hard in Thursday’s strong winds but was disappointed to finish my round with a triple bogey on 18.  Friday was another tough day but I was happy with my play. I was rewarded for my patience on the greens when I holed at 35 foot put on the 18th green to finish inside the cut mark.

Playing with Ross Fisher and Pat Perez for the first 36 holes was a pleasure. We fed off each other well in the tough conditions, which I am sure helped all three of us make the halfway cut.

I was fairly pleased with my play over the weekend, particularly off the tee, but I didn’t quite get the reward for my good approach play on the greens. Still, I managed to hole a few more putts on the final day and signed off with a -2, 70 to finish in a tie for 33rd place.

It was the first time I’d made the cut at Augusta which was pleasing. The Masters is certainly a tournament which favours local knowledge. Having doubled my previous tournament rounds at Augusta National, I hope to benefit from that extra experience in future.

I want to wish a huge congratulations to Sergio Garcia for winning his first major and I’m sure that winning on what would have been Seve’s 60th birthday was extra special for him.

Thoughts now turn firmly to Wentworth. Looking ahead, I am very excited about the BMW PGA Championship and seeing the changes to the West Course first hand. I know everyone at the Club is delighted with the changes and I cannot wait to see the finished result next month.

Winning at Wentworth in 2015 was the proudest moment of my career to date and the Club will always have a special place in my heart. I look forward to seeing everyone in a month’s time and cannot wait to tee off once again on one of the world’s most iconic courses.