Irish talking up English at Augusta
Harris English. Photo: kenneth e.dennis /

Harris English. Photo: kenneth e.dennis /

When not one but two Irishmen starting talking up an English man, it's time to sit up and take notice.

Graeme McDowell was one of the first to tip the 24-year old Georgia native Harris English to become the first rookie since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to win the Masters. But there were positive vibes too from Augusta National member John Carr.

A son of the late, great JB Carr, John played a practice round behind English in the company of two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw on Sunday and was mightly impressed as the American aced the 12th with a wedge and stormed home in just 31 blows.

It would have been just 30 shots but English, winner of two titles on the PGA Tour last year, narrowly missed a 12 footer for birdie at the 18th.

“I played with him a few weeks ago at Bay Hill," McDowell wrote on his blog for the BBC. "If was on the leaderboard come the weekend I would not be shocked.

“He's long, hits his irons very high, very cool, and has a good short game and putter. He's got the tools to win around Augusta.”

McDowell sees no reason why one of the record 24 rookies in action this week—the most since 23 first timers played in the second Masters in 1935—cannot win the title.

"These young players are just so well equipped nowadays," he said.

McDowell played alongside Crenshaw on his Masters debut in 2005 but simply couldn't handle the greens and shot rounds of 79 and 70 to miss the cut by one stroke.

"When I think back to my debut in 2005, I played with the handbrake on for the two rounds," he said. "I played with Ben Crenshaw and I putted like a rookie, having six or seven three-putts.

"I was gobsmacked watching Crenshaw, rolling like an artist on the greens really. He made me feel really inferior and it was certainly a wake-up call for me regarding putting on greens of that style. He was like Van Gogh on the canvas."

McDowell is a vastly improved putter these days and tops the PGA Tour's new Strokes Gained putting statistic.

And while his record at Augusta National is not impressive — he's missed the cut four times out of six — he's doing everything in his power to make sure he gives himself every chance this year.

Skipping the Par-3 Contest is one way of making sure you are not affected by the Masters curse that says that no-one has ever won the traditional Wednesday competition and gone on to win the green jacket.

“The timesheet’s full and …. it’s a great time to be out practising on the golf course,” McDowell said yesterday as he headed out for a practice round with Keegan Bradley.
They managed just two holes in before the heavens opened and the course was evacuated. Maybe that extra practice time tomorrow will come in handy after all.