Macpherson takes his own route to Masters

British Amateur champ Bryden Macpherson hits a shot from No. 2 fairway during a Masters practice round at Augusta National.

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Bryden Macpherson and Chris Haack, player and coach, chatted for a half hour behind the ninth green Tuesday at Augusta National. And that wasn’t the only familiar scene. There was the Bulldog headcover on Macpherson’s driver. There was the “Go Dawgs!” cheer that followed him around the course. There was the Georgia fan who barked at him, incessantly. (“I was like, ‘Get this guy a bone or something,’” he said.)

Even though Macpherson, 21, left the Georgia program in February to spend more time with his swing coach as he prepares for the Masters and his upcoming professional career, “I’m just as much a Bulldog as I was before,” he said. “There’s no hard feelings at all between us.”

Having spent about six weeks at home in Melbourne with his swing coach, Denis McDade, Macpherson reported that his swing felt simpler, that it has fewer moving parts. “I’m hitting it a lot straighter with a lot more shape and controlling the flight a lot better,” he said. Usually that works.

Two months after making a career-altering decision, Macpherson, who became only the second Australian to win the British Amateur, says he has no regrets.

“It was the best move for me,” he said. “It was tough leaving UGA (Georgia), but there’s a certain type of player that flourishes in that atmosphere. It wasn’t for me. I’m a very hands-on guy, and I need my coaches with me, saying, ‘That’s not right’ or what have you. Other guys have spent their whole lives just playing the game and scoring, and I’ve never really done that.”

This is Macpherson’s final week as an amateur, as he’ll turn pro immediately after the Masters. The experience at Augusta will be memorable regardless of how well he plays, but the Aussie certainly relishes the opportunity to test his skills against the world’s best.

Macpherson said he’s played Augusta National “about 10 times” and is starting to understand its subtle nuances. “I’m still under-reading a lot of putts, but that’s to be expected,” he said. “You read the putt and multiply it by two -- that’s how much it breaks.”

On Monday night, Macpherson joined the other amateurs in the field for the annual Amateur Dinner, held in the Magnolia Suite at Augusta National with club members, representatives from the R&A and USGA and other past amateur champions. He was scheduled to stay in the Crow’s Nest that night, but was too rushed in preparing for dinner.

“I’m a vegetarian so they made me something special,” Macpherson said of the Amateur Dinner. “I don’t even know what it was, but it tasted good.”

For an amateur, there is no more delicious week than this.

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