Sandy Lyle tells Russell Knox to box clever

Sandy Lyle shows Russell Knox how to play a 'blade' shot from close to the green at Augusta National. Picture: Getty Images
Sandy Lyle shows Russell Knox how to play a 'blade' shot from close to the green at Augusta National. Picture: Getty Images
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Sandy Lyle landed a knockout blow to become Masters champion in 1988 but he is urging compatriot Russell Knox to box clever on his debut at Augusta National.

“It’s a bit like when you go into a boxing match,” replied Lyle to being asked what would be his best advice to Knox heading into his first round in the heat of battle.

“You need to suss out the guy who you are boxing for the first few holes rather than thinking you go out swinging and you are going to knock him out in the first round.

“If you come out straight away attacking the flag here at Augusta, you will find yourself taking doubles, triples and so on, and you start asking yourself ‘why did I do that?’”

Lyle pointed to six-time winner Jack Nicklaus as the perfect example of how patience can be rewarded on the course that stages the season’s opening major for the 80th time this week.

“I don’t think Nicklaus was a fast starter - he grinded away,” added the Scot, who is making his 35th appearance this week.

“If the opportunity arises - and the wind is in the right direction - by all means open the shoulder a bit and go for the big drive on holes like the 15th and then have a medium iron to the green.

“At the 13th, you can hit it around the corner and take the chance and have a 6-iron into the green.

“Most of the time, though, you have just got to play very, very cagey. If you are playing well, you might take more on. If you are not playing well, just think where do you need to miss it.

“It’s easier said than done but my advice to Russell is just don’t go flat out at it. Try to remain steady because a 72 in the first round is not a disaster.

“Then you need to get rolling but what I am stressing don’t blow yourself out of the tournament by shooting a first-day 76 because you tried to attack the course, and you’ve seen it backfire on you.”

The two Scots had never met before playing a practice round together on Monday at the request of Knox.

“I am very impressed and I like the guy an awful lot as he’s interested to ask questions,” admitted Lyle of his younger compatriot.

“He wants to know the decision process around why some of the shots are played to different positions and what advantage is to be gained.

“So I’ve helped him out a lot on playing these fringe shots by ‘blading’ it - the same advice I offered to Stephen Gallacher two years ago.

“By that, I meab to use the ‘blade’ of the wedge with shots about three or four yards from the green that you would normally tend to chip the ball.

“It just doesn’t work with a 5-iron but if you ‘blade’ it with a sand-iron it works so much better day-in and day-out over the 18 holes.

“I think he realises that someone who has been playing here at Augusta for 30-odd years is going to have more advantage over someone who is playing here for the first time.”