Graeme McDowell believes two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson could win six green jackets, so well is his left-handed game suited to the demands of Augusta National.
The Portrush man has no problem admitting that he finds Augusta "baffling" and highly unsuited to his style of play. Uncomfortable with the draw, he was doubly hampered by the recent disappearance of his usually reliable fade and with his short iron play and his pace putting also AWOL under severe Augusta pressure, he simply couldn't perform and missed the cut for the fifth time in seven Masters starts. But Bubba, that's a different story.
"I played with Bubba three weeks ago and I knew he had a great chance at Augusta the way he was playing," McDowell said on the eve of his title defence for the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, a course that's right up his alley. "He's just tailor-made for that golf course. Six of the last 12 champions have been left‑handers. That blows me away that statistic.
"It speaks volumes of what it takes. You are shaping the ball right to left so much. And the slice is so much more controllable than the hook. The right‑hander has to hook everything. Hook has top spin and that's hard to control. A slice has back spin and it's a hell of a lot easier to control.
"Yes, Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson have phenomenal short games, as does Bubba Watson. But the par and the fade are such key weapons around there.
"But, yes, no one made a run on the back nine because Bubba just had a stranglehold. His tee shot on 13, you know, he got lucky on 13.... it looked like he hit it further left than he wanted to. Once the ball found fairway, it was game over. I was just impressed.
"Yes, it was anti‑climactic on the back nine, but you couldn't help but be impressed with the ball‑shaping capabilities of Bubba Watson. He could literally win six Masters. He's that set up for that golf course. It's amazing."
With five Top-10s from seven starts this year, results he say flatter his performances, McDowell gives himself a B+ as he approaches the event that marks the end of the opening third of his season.
A win would improve that grade but he's not putting himself under massive pressure to don another tartan jacket unless his fade returns at full power.
"I've been struggling with my shape a little bit the last six or eight months, especially," he told reporters. "Looking back, I was talking to my caddie the other day and I said, 'I haven't really felt as in control of my golf ball as I did this time last year at Hilton Head.'
"I hit a lot of quality golf shots here. My fade has eluded me since then. The main emphasis on my game has been my fade shot. I haven't been hitting it that well. And it was really my undoing last Friday at Augusta.
"I was trying to hit a 5‑iron to 10, just hit a hard cut off that green and I double crossed it in the trees. Shots like that have been killing me lately."
Hilton Head is another tough course but it's one that McDowell relishes.
Renting a house on the ocean with his family by his side is also a plus and the ideal way for him to put last week's disappointment behind him.
"I heard someone describe it as adult spring break," he said. "And it finally feels like spring break after the final exam last week at Augusta. It's a nice place to decompress and get away from the pressures of the first Major Championship of the year."