Three of Australia’s best young players will make their Masters debut this month. We sat down with Lucas Herbert, Cameron Davis and Min Woo Lee to get their takes on a Major milestone like no other.
What’s your favourite Masters moment, lads?
Cameron Davis: There are a lot of them. I mean, it was very cool watching Tiger win in 2019. There are a lot of good ones leading up to that one, but that was awesome. I remember watching that entire back nine on Sunday and just shaking my head in amazement. When ‘Scotty’ (Adam Scott) won that was obviously pretty cool. I think every Australian would say that’s No.1 on
Lucas Herbert: Watching Scotty win in 2013. For most Australians, it was one of those moments where you’ll always remember where you were.
Min Woo Lee: Yep, Scotty winning the Masters, for sure.
Growing up, was the Masters something you always dreamed of one day playing?
LH: Yeah absolutely. Because of the time of the year, it was close to Easter and you were on school holidays. It was the only PGA Tour event, maybe besides The Open, which was on free-to-air in Australia. The Masters was the one treat for the year where you loved to get up early because we didn’t have pay TV as a kid.
ML: Yes, 100 percent. The Masters is one of my favourite tournaments and I’ve always dreamt of winning and playing well at Augusta National.
CD: The Masters and The Open were about the same on my list. Those were the two tournaments that I was really excited to wake up early in the morning for or sat up late and watched with Dad. I would say the Masters always had a little bit more allure to it than The Open. I think the fact that I’ve never played the Masters before, it’s still got that mystique about it that I just can’t wait to shake off. There’s something about playing the same golf course every single year and really getting to know it so well.
Describe the feeling when you knew you had qualified for the 2022 Masters
LH: I didn’t have that dramatic moment where I qualified for the Masters through the rankings and waited for them to refresh on the Monday. Because I won in Bermuda, which automatically got me into the Masters, maybe the feeling of earning my first invitation to Augusta got lost in the euphoria of getting my first PGA Tour win. But it was still a really cool feeling. I put a lot of pressure on myself early in my career to get into the Masters, and I had to get out of my own way. So, it’s particularly satisfying now I’ve done it.
ML: It was surreal. It’s something I’ve always strived for – to be in the top 50 players in the world – so it was a massive achievement when I got there.
CD: It took a while to sink in, actually. I think it was because it was still so far away. At the time I was just stoked to have won a tournament (the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic). It wasn’t until, probably, a week later that I started going, Oh, I’ve got in the Masters and I started going back on YouTube and watching every Masters round that’s been played for the past 30 years, picturing myself out there and actually knowing that I’m going to be there. It’s pretty cool.
Everyone dreams of getting that letter. Did you check the letterbox daily? Did you get to open the envelope yourself?
CD: It was a very surreal moment. The invitation came in a really inconspicuous package too, so when you open it up you go, Whoa! I shared it with my family, I shared it with my coach, it was all very exciting. It was a real buzz for me seeing how excited everyone around me was for it as well. Everyone knew that it was a lifetime achievement to get that letter.
LH: It’s funny because I was in Australia when the official invitation got sent to my place in Florida, and I was seeing on social media all the other players were receiving their invites in the mail. Then, I played the PGA Tour event on Maui in Hawaii on the way home. So, it was only a couple of weeks later that I finally opened it back in Florida. I got COVID-19 then, too, so I had all day every day in isolation to stare at that invitation!
ML: My manager in America actually got the letter but when I returned to the United States, I opened it and it was a special feeling.
Let’s talk preparation. How are you all preparing for your first Masters?
LH: I’ll work with my team in the weeks leading up to the Masters on dialling in the wedge shots and freeing up other things in my game so I can use my strengths, like my driving. I’d like to think with my putting, I’ll be able to take advantage of the greens. I haven’t played the course yet, but I’m going to head to Augusta National a couple of weeks before the Masters because I really want to experience it all and get that whole wow-factor out of the way. I don’t want to be in awe of Augusta at the Masters itself.
CD: I haven’t been able to get my coach [Khan Pullen] over often, but I had him over the past couple of weeks. He’s going to be over a week before and I’m gonna get a couple of days of work done back home and then head on over. I’ll check out the golf course after the Players. I need to get that first round at Augusta out of the way. I would love to turn up to the tournament no longer being starstruck or intimidated. Being able to get straight to work so by the time I turn up during Masters week, I’m thinking about winning, not just thinking about how happy I am to be there.
ML: I’ll go ahead of the Masters and play a round or two before the tournament.
Have you reached out to other players for advice?
LH: Not really, no. I haven’t reached out and I don’t have any particular practice-round playing partners in mind, either. I think anyone who has made the Masters is a pretty decent player, so I will be glad to have practice rounds with anyone and pick their brain.
ML: Not quite but I heard you have to be creative around that place and the greens can get slick. I’ll watch lots of YouTube videos from previous years.
CD: No, not yet. Once we get to Masters week, we’ll see what happens. I mean, there are a lot of guys out there that have plenty of experience that I feel I could learn something from. But at the same time, as much as you kind of rely on that local knowledge, it’s going to be kind of cool just seeing how I play it. My approach to the golf course is solid. I mean, I’ve watched so much of it that I feel like I know where to hit and where not to miss it, but the little things like, This putt’s a little bit quicker than it looks or, There’s a little bit of extra break on this green, those are all things that I definitely don’t know and I’m probably going to need a little bit of help. But when I go out there in a couple of weeks time, have that first round, I’m going to have a local caddie who would have Masters experience.
Any particular shot or hole you’re looking forward to playing?
LH: The 16th, for sure. That’d be such a cool chip shot to hit. I’m definitely dropping a couple of balls and trying Tiger’s famous chip-in from 2005.
CD: I’m looking forward to 16, too. Seeing what it’s like to hit a shot into that green on the Sunday with the hole-in-one pin position and watching it feed down. I’m looking forward to playing down the hill on hole two and hole 10. The second shot into 11 is going to be fun. The whole golf course just feels like it’s full of signature shots that will be pretty hard to forget.
ML: I’m looking forward to the par 5s, like 13, but I’m really excited to play No.12. Hopefully it’s nice to me.
You’re warming up next to Tiger on the range. Do you ask him anything?
ML: Probably not. I’d just watch Tiger hit balls and be star-struck [Laughs].
LH: To be honest, I’m at the point I’m seeing these guys as competitors as opposed to looking up to them and asking for advice. It’d be cool to hit balls next to Tiger if he ends up playing this year’s Masters, but I’d be in my own bubble.
CD: I like to use my time at the golf course as ‘work’ time, so I don’t know about that. I’d probably be too nervous to go up and talk to someone, especially if he’s ‘working’ as well. I don’t know what it takes to get to the point where you can be buddies and walk up to Tiger and tap him on the shoulder [Laughs].
At the end of the week, you’ve got a few minutes to rummage through the pro shop. What are you buying?
LH: [Laughs] There’s a part of me that isn’t that into it. I’ll grab a few things, but I don’t want to be that guy who has furnished his whole house with Masters merchandise.
ML: Everything! I’m that guy who’s willing to drop some cash in the merch tent!
CD: I’m not much of a merch guy, myself. I would buy, maybe, one or two souvenirs, but I’m sure those that are going to be with me (family and friends) are going to want a bit more than a couple of souvenirs [Laughs]. The memories are all on TV, so after I’ve (hopefully) played well, I can just look back and watch it all again.