Russell Knox is hoping he has the courage to play the shot he learned from Sandy Lyle in a Masters-class when the gun goes off at Augusta National on Thursday.
Debutant Knox played 18 holes with Lyle, the 1988 winner, on the first official practice day for the event’s 80th staging in sun-kissed conditions in Georgia.
“I thought we were only going to play nine holes, but he kept going after we came off the 10th and I said, ‘okay, let’s carry on’,” revealed Knox, smiling, afterwards.
It was time well spent because Knox took the chance to grill Lyle, who is making his 35th apparance in the event this week, and his older compatriot was happy to impart his considerable knowledge of this unqiue venue.
“I asked him questions on every hole and he had lots of answers,” said Knox, whose only other practice round had been back in February.
“He really did teach me a few things I wouldn’t have known if I had played myself, so it was a very useful round. “
As was the case with Stephen Gallacher when he was in the same position two years ago, Lyle encouraged Knox to use the leading edge of his wedge blade for shots that were just off the green.
“It’s a shot I’ve never really played before, but he showed how easy it was to hit,” added the 30-year-old from Inverness who is based in Jacksonville Beach in Florida.
“I’m sure I’ll be faced with plenty of situations in the event where I am faced with that shot and hopefully I’ll have the guts to play it because any time I tried it today it worked.
“Every time he played it he made it look so easy and I am sure it could be very useful.”
It may have been the first time the pair had met, but they looked like two long-time friends out playing a bounce game.
“It was so relaxed out there with Sandy,” admitted Knox. “We were having fun and it was a great course to play with Sandy for the first time.
“Playing out here with all these crowds is what it is all about. If you can’t get excited about this, then you’ll never get excited about anything.”