BBC BLOGS - Martin Laird
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Form good ahead of first Masters appearance

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Martin Laird | 00:20 UK time, Saturday, 2 April 2011

I'm obviously delighted to have won again on the PGA Tour, especially a tournament of the stature of Bay Hill. It makes it extra special when 'The King' himself, Arnold Palmer, is waiting for you off of the 18th green to congratulate you.

I'm also very excited about my climb up the world rankings. I've been playing great over the last seven months, so it's extra satisfying to get a win and jump up into the top 25 in the world.

I don't target certain positions in the rankings, but it shows me that my hard work has paid off and I'm working on the correct things.

Arnold Palmer and Martin Laird

Laird (right) receives his winner's trophy from Palmer. Photo: Getty Images

It was a very up and down final round at Bay Hill; or more accurately, quite a few downs and then a huge up at the end!

I knew right from the beginning of the day that it was going to be a battle as I just didn't have my swing. That showed early on and into the middle of the round. I had to dig deep to stay in contention by holing a lot of good putts just to have a chance over the last few holes. I was extremely proud of the way I hit the ball over the last four holes to end up on top.

I really didn't think that my chance was gone, even when I was five over for the round. I knew that the last six holes were going to be playing extremely tough and Steve Marino wasn't going to pull away any more.

There were still two par 5 holes left to play and I knew I had to take advantage of them; something I managed to do all week. The aim then was to pick a shot or two up elsewhere to get right back in contention.

It was one of the toughest course set-ups I've ever played when you consider the wind, the firmness and speed of the greens and more importantly the pin positions.

Apart from the two par 5s, there really weren't any other legitimate birdie holes. I knew I would have to pull off either a risky and exceptional shot to get it close, or hole a long putt, to make a birdie on any of those holes. I managed that on 15.

I had a few near misses last year and a couple of poor final rounds when I've had a chance to win this year. Those experiences definitely played a part in my determination to never give up on this title.

It was my tournament to win and I was going to grind it out as hard as I could until the end, until I had the trophy.

I thought back to my 3 putt at the Barclays last year when I was walking up to the 18th green. I let that tournament slip through my fingers and was not going to let it happen again. I was as focused as I've ever been on that last green, taking nothing for granted.

I'm not someone that sets individual goals that much; I just try to improve every year and see where that takes me. I'm not shocked that I've achieved two tour wins already, but if you had told me a couple years ago that I'd be 21st in the world, I probably wouldn't have believed you.

I'm definitely taking a lot of confidence out of my win last week, against a tough field on a very tough golf course. This can only help going into the Masters and for the rest of the year.

It's always tough playing a course for the first time, but especially tough at Augusta. There's just so much 'local' knowledge that you can learn and use as an advantage.

In saying that, I don't see why I can't be in contention on Sunday. I feel like my game suits the course well, now that it's such a long layout. Everyone knows that it all really comes down to putting in the end at Augusta and that's probably the best area of my game right now.

Increased expectation on me won't make a difference. My goals and thoughts on the week haven't changed. I always go into tournaments thinking I can win, and this won't change next week.

The first time I got to Augusta was pretty special. I've seen it so many times on TV and to finally be there was brilliant. I just kind of walked around and stared for a while checking everything out.

It was so good to go out and play the course before the mayhem of Masters week itself. The front 9 is really good, but the back 9 are the best nine holes I've ever played. There are so many excellent holes all the way to the massive climb up the 18th fairway to the final green. I can't wait to get to those last nine holes on the weekend when the place is buzzing with excitement. It really doesn't get any better.

My main goal going into next week is to have fun and enjoy my first competitive experience there. If I make sure I do that and not take it overly seriously, then I'll play my best golf.

I know with the way that I've been playing recently that I can get myself into position on Sunday to mount a challenge. First timer or not, I really believe that I can have a run at the green jacket if I play like I have over the last month.

All in all, I want to soak the whole experience up as much as possible and have a fantastic week. I'm sure I'll learn a lot about the golf course by making some mistakes when I'm out there. That's the only way to get better and I hope that I remember the mistakes I do make in the future.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Martin,
    Let me be the first to congratulate you on a superb win at the API. Watching you finish, especially the first putt on 18 was nerve wracking (for me). I can only imagine what you were feeling! You showed us how patience and persistance can win tournaments. We'll be watching the Masters, in hope of a strong finish. This is your year, I'm proud to be a fan.

  • Comment number 2.

    Martin,
    I spoke to you coming off the 18th at the BMW last year and its great to see a fellow Scot doing so well. You really kept your nerve during the back nine on Sunday and the two putt on 18 was just brilliant. I`m interested to hear what Mr Palmer said to you after the win ?? All the best for next week.

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello Martin. So many congratulations on your terrific win last week at Arnie's tournie. I don't have sky tv but each week I follow your progress with much interest via the pga website and shot tracker. When I saw you had to get down in 2 from 80 feet on the final green for the win I confess to feeling nervous for you. It seemed a long wait for to read 'in the cup for par'. You showed great character and lots of guts to close it out. You've been in great form and you deserve the success. I'm glad to read about your plans to just enjoy augusta and not put too much pressure on yourself. The Masters is a fantastic tournament and now that you are one of the few to have ever played in it anything else is just a total bonus. I have no doubt that we can look forward to seeing you there each April for many more years to come and one year, maybe even this one you'll be wearing that green jacket. p.s delighted to hear you're coming up to castle stuart for the Scottish Open. I may make the drive up from Edinburgh. Good luck mate!

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Martin. Great stuff. Admit to being a bit edgy early on but needn't have worried. I'd said before its great to see the Saltire up in amongst the Stars and Stripes and the rest, even better to see it at the top.
    Very best of luck at Augusta. It goes without saying that we are all behind you.
    It's amazing what a bit of success does. Normally we have to hunt for your blog...on this occasion there was the link on the main BBC Sports page!!
    Slainthe
    Barrie

  • Comment number 5.

    Martin,
    A fantastic win and with your articulate and mature approach you are a great ambassador for Scotland. As an expat Scot living in Canada and an ex member of Hilton Park I follow your progress very closely. I note that this is your first BBC blog update since December 26/10, and it has not been easy to pass on messages of support. Have a great Masters.

  • Comment number 6.

    Martin, many congratulations on what was a fantastic win for yourself and for Scottish golf. Together with Paul Lawrie's victory earlier in the day, it was a great day all round.

    I must admit, after your first 11 holes I wasn't too hopeful! But you showed great resilience to come back and close the job out. Playing the last 4 holes in -2 was tremendous considering how others had been struggling on those holes. Good luck at Augusta, I'm sure you can achieve a high finish, or who knows even go all the way.

    Lawson

  • Comment number 7.

    A great read which summarised perfectly a wonderful week which was thrilling to watch. Congratulations not only on the incredible win at Bay Hill but the 3 previous top 10 finishes including the fantastic 13 under at the weekend in Phoenix. It's been a great boost for Scottish golf and I wonder how inspired you were seeing the Saltire behind the tee at the 17th tee at Bay Hill. The course was a beast on Sunday but you were herculean over the final 4 holes.

    Good luck at Augusta in what I'm sure will be an amazing experience for you and everyone watching.

  • Comment number 8.

    Nice one Martin - I was down at the Brazil V Scotland game at the Emirates (London) with my brother. We had a few bevvies too much on the Saturday - so after the game on Sunday we were back (earlier than expected !) in the Strand Palace Hotel. We followed your progress on the text. It was great to see your comeback - the victories for yourself and Paul certainly eased the hangovers ! Well done - next stop - a major ! PS - if you are in the area I'll give you a game at Cruden Bay - I'm up to 5.5 now - so with my local knowledge it should be a close game (tel. 01358 725293). All the best - Steve Hutcheon

  • Comment number 9.

    Great result Martin. Best of luck at Augusta. Perhaps you and Sandy could finish in the top ten and cheer the home-of-golf and annoy my bookmaker!

  • Comment number 10.

    as a member of hilton, i couldn't have been more overjoyed when you holed that 4 footer last sunday. best of luck.

  • Comment number 11.

    Martin, my wife and I followed you for the 4 rounds at the Disney Classic in 2008 when you started at 125th on the Tour and finished on 125th to keep your tour card for 2009.
    We are sure that the pressure who were under then, has been a good experience for all the pressures you have had since.

    We have been delighted to follow your progress since and look forward to your continued success this week and the following 18 months and trust you will make the 2012 Ryder Team.

    Dave

  • Comment number 12.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 13.

    Great win and well done. Not wishing to put you under any more pressure but I have put £5.00 on you to win the Masters. If you win I will visit my local Chinese restaurant, if you don't win it will be beans on toast as usual. Keep you head down and best of luck....Trevor

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Martin

    What you have achieved is nothing short of incredible. As a Scot it makes me very proud. I hope you keep progressing and look forward to seeing you on home soil at the Ryder Cup in 2014!

    Best of luck!

  • Comment number 15.

    Martin,

    Thrilled for you. Been following your progress here for a couple of years, as I am from Edinburgh but teach at your alma mater, Colorado State University here in Fort Collins. I was excited to go to work this past Monday and talk of my Scottish bretheren and CSU alum winning, it was just marvellous. Have a great time at Augusta, I will be watching on the Golf Channel, ESPN, and NBC when I am not at school teaching. All the Best.

  • Comment number 16.

    Martin,
    You probably won't read these til after the Masters, (that's understandable!), but the pairings just came out. Does it make any difference to you who is in your pairing? Are there some guys who bring out the best in your game? No names, hehe! Best wishes this week, we'll be watching/cheering!

  • Comment number 17.

    Good luck for the Masters and cheers for winning me some much needed cash at Bay Hill!

  • Comment number 18.

    Martin,
    Well done winning at Bay Hill and wish you all the best for The Masters

  • Comment number 19.

    Tough first round at Augusta Martin. No. 12 really hurt you, but it will hurt many more players this week too.

    Really hope you make the cut, attack those par 5's, thats what you do best!

  • Comment number 20.

    Martin,
    Just saw the parings for Sunday at Masters, Could it be? You'll finally get some much deserved air time! I'm not too keen on the US TV coverage. I believe you will rise to the challenge with a strong finish, regardless of who you golf with. BTW, great 69's in rounds 2&3. We'll be watching, wearing the saltire with pride.

  • Comment number 21.

    Good luck with your final round Martin, lets hope you can produce another solid round and cement a top-10 finish for us all to be proud of!

  • Comment number 22.

    Martin,
    T20 for first Masters, not too shabby. It must have been a little odd golfing with you know who! I am again dissapointed with the media coverage, I don't think they showed one shot of yours. :( That's okay, you'll be around top 10 for the rest of this season. Keep playing and improving! Some of us fans will always be watching.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great season so far, Martin, Congrat's.
    It looks like Russell Knox has now earned his Nationwide Card for the remainder of 2011. If he plays the rest of the year like he did this past week, you'll be welcoming him to the PGA Tour . . . . .

  • Comment number 24.

    Another top 10 - well done! I note #3 driving distance, and tied #3 in greens in regulation. Seems like only the putter kept you from a much higher finish. What next?

 

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