Sandy Lyle is feeling “quietly confident” that he can celebrate the 30th anniversary of him becoming the first British player to win the Masters by making the cut this week at Augusta National.
The 60-year-old, who is the sole Scot in the field on this occasion, starts his 37th appearance in the opening major of the season in the company of Players’ champion Si Woo Kim from Korea and American amateur Doug Ghim.
“I’ve managed to make some birdies in my practice rounds and I’ve been hitting the ball long enough to get me round here, which is certainly encouraging,” Lyle told The Scotsman after playing in the Par 3 event.
“I just hope I can get off to a nice start and stay positive. I have been feeling reasonably good about my swing over the last three or four months and the way it is behaving itself.
“My ball-striking is a lot better and I am quietly confident that I can get round in the low 70s and something in the 60s would be a nice bonus.”
Lyle enjoyed a nice surprise at Tuesday night’s Champions Dinner, having earned his place at that particular table by producing a superb 7-iron from a fairway bunker to close with a Green Jacket-winning birdie back in 1988.
“I was actually sitting beside (defending champion) Sergio Garcia,” revealed the two-time major winner. “I normally sit beside the chairman at the end but he moved to the middle this time.
“I had Woosie (Ian Woosnam) to my left and it was a very good meal. It was nice and light and that allowed a bit more wine to go down.
“It was a nice touch by Sergio to include something in the salad we had as a starter from all the countries to have produced winners here.”
Lyle, who described himself as the “chaperone” in his group - Kim is 22 and Ghim 21 - reckons four-time winner Tiger Woods is going to be the man to beat this week.
“They are all on form and all in good health,” he said of the leading contenders for the Green Jacket this time around.
“Everyone has high hopes for Tiegr as he’s showed some great promise in his last few events and he’ll be extremely dangerous out there.
“Indeed, I’d like to be in Tiger’s shoes this week as he is looking good.”