Martin Laird not needing Texas triumph this time for Masters spot

Much as though he enjoyed winning the Valero Texas Open eight years ago to secure the last spot in the Masters the following week, Martin Laird’s head was all over the place by the time he got to Augusta National.

Martin Laird holds the trophy after winning the 2013 Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. Picture: Michael Cohen/Getty Images.

“I enjoyed it, but I don’t really remember it,” admitted Laird of what was his third successive appearance in the season’s opening major in Georgia, having held off Rory McIlroy in the final round to land a timely two-shot victory at TPC San Antonio.

“I flew in on the Sunday, obviously on a high from winning in Texas,” added the 38-year-old Denver-based Glaswegian. “Anytime you win, it takes a bit out of you, it’s tiring. I was dealing with all that on the Sunday and then the adrenaline kind of disappears on the Monday. I just felt a bit rushed and a bit tired going into it.”

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That contributed to a first early exit for him in the event on that occasion, having tied for 20th on his debut in 2011 before finishing in the top 60 the following year.

“Jason Day birdied the 16th to knock me out,” recalled Laird, who had been hoping the 10-shot rule would come to his rescue following rounds of 76-73

“I was friends with him and I gave him some crap for that (laughing). It was fun, but it’s a lot nicer knowing that I’m going for a while and be able to go and do some early preparation.”

On this occasion, Laird’s invitation was secured back in October as he returned to winning ways on the PGA Tour with a second victory in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas.

“It’s nicer this way,” he said. “When I get there next week, it won’t feel like such a quick turnaround.

“I felt like I never really got to celebrate that Texas win. When I won in Vegas last year, I had two weeks off and it was great.”

In preparation for his return next week, Laird paid a visit to Augusta National after the recent Players Championship in Florida along with his caddie, former Scottish Amateur champion Kevin McAlpine.

“I went for a little refresher and took Kevin for a little look as he’s never been there,” he said. “You have to take a local caddie when you go early so he carried the bag and Kevin walked with us and picked the caddie’s brain. I did that before my first one in 2011 and the local caddie gave me a lot of good stuff then.

“It was good to get back. No 5 (where the tee has been moved back in recent years) was the only big change since I’d been last there.”

Laird has been paired with fellow Scot Russell Knox and former US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk for this week’s event, which has 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth as the star attraction.

“I think the course at San Antonio is a great place to warm up before the Masters,” said Laird. “I clearly like the golf course and I also like being there for the week. I will look to have a nice solid week and then get over to Augusta on Sunday night and get ready.”

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