Notes: Kaymer to prep for Masters in Scottsdale

Martin Kaymer is changing his Masters preparation in the hopes that it will produce better results.

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Martin Kaymer may be World No. 1, but he doesn’t play like it in the Masters. Kaymer has missed the cut in each of his three starts at Augusta National.

Kaymer has altered his pre-Masters preparations in an attempt to end his streak of missed cuts. He played the event preceding the Masters, the Houston Open, each of the past two years. This year, he will arrive in Augusta the week prior to the Masters after practicing in Scottsdale next week.

Kaymer finished in the top 10 in the final three majors of 2010, including a victory at the PGA Championship, after missing the cut at Augusta National, where he shot 76-73.

“My problem has always been my short game,” Kaymer said. “I struggle with my putting and if I miss a green. ... Maybe I had a little too much respect.

“I think for me the Masters is probably the most difficult major to win.”

Kaymer said he has been working on a right-to-left tee shot, which is key on several of Augusta’s holes, such as the the par-5 13th. He said it is difficult for him to reach the green in two shots because he struggles to turn the ball around the corner of the dogleg.

“(A draw) would make the golf course easier,” Kaymer said. “I’m getting more comfortable. I don’t know if it will be ready this year, but I’m getting closer every year.”

• • •

Matteo Manassero, No. 55 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is playing on the PGA Tour the next two weeks in a last-ditch effort to make it into the Masters. The top 50 after next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational gain entry.

“I’m thinking about it,” Manassero, 17, said. “It requires two good weeks.”

J.B. Holmes, No. 58 in the world, is the only other player ranked between Nos. 51-60 in the OWGR that’s not already in the Masters. The top 50 after next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational earn invitations, as do the winners of the next three PGA Tour events. Holmes is not in the Transitions field.

Manassero finished 36th in last year’s Masters to win low-amateur honors. He was the youngest participant in Masters history.

• • •

Ryo Ishikawa finished 42nd at last week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship. He’s playing the Transitions Championship for the third consecutive year, though his thoughts are with his home country of Japan.

“I wish I could go there and assist with the search and rescue teams, but the reality is, even if I were to go back, there is very little I could physically do,” Ishikawa said through a translator. “So, I think of what I can do, and the only thing I can do is train hard, play hard, play great golf and provide some hope and some positive news.”

He is scheduled to stay in the United States until after the Masters. He said he’ll return to Japan the day after Augusta to play that week’s Token Homemate Cup, the opening event on the Japan Golf Tour. The event is still scheduled to be played, in spite of last week’s earthquake.

Isikawa missed the cut in last year’s Transitions after finishing 71st in 2009.

• • •

Monday qualifier Jason Kokrak may challenge Bubba Watson for the title of longest hitter in the Transitions Championship field.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Kokrak was the leading money winner on the eGolf Professional Tour last year. He won twice in 11 starts, and had eight top 10s.

“I was hitting the ball next to Bubba (Watson) at the (2007 U.S.) Open. I feel like he hits it farther than me, but other people say I hit it farther,” Kokrak said. “It’s right in the same ballpark.”

Kokrak thought he’d lost his spot in the Transitions Championship when he three-putted the final hole of Monday qualifying. After a four-hour wait, he learned he was in the field.

“I thought I shot myself in the foot,” he said.

Kokrak, who played his college golf at Xavier was wearing a blue hat and white shirt Tuesday, the same colors as his alma mater, which is a No. 6 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. Like the Musketeers, he’s trying to make a Cinderella run this week.

• • •

Nick Watney is in the Transitions field after winning his first World Golf Championship title last week at Doral. Watney birdied the final hole for a two-shot victory over Dustin Johnson. In four head-to-head meetings between Watney and Johnson this year, Watney is 3-1 and has bested Johnson by 13 strokes. That’s 0.81 strokes per round. . . . U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein is competing in the Transitions Championship on a sponsor exemption. It’s his first PGA Tour event since 2006. Uihlein will play his first Masters in three weeks. Uihlein attended the IMG Leadbetter Academy in nearby Bradenton, Fla.

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