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Relaxed Scott throws down gauntlet

Date

Ben Everill

No worries: Adam Scott.

No worries: Adam Scott. Photo: Getty Images

Adam Scott has thrown down the challenge to Tiger Woods, insisting the world No.1 is far from a laydown misere to land a fifth Masters title this weekend.

Scott and fellow 2011 joint runner-up Jason Day will spearhead Australia's charge at Augusta, with the Queensland pair feeling relaxed and confident as they strive to end the infamous green and gold drought.

Woods is the raging favourite to take out the year's opening major after winning three times already this season to regain the world No.1 ranking from Rory McIlroy.

But Scott is undaunted by Tiger.

''We all know what he is capable of doing,'' said the world No.7. ''He has got the runs on the board for that. [But] he is far from running away with it. He has returned to No.1 but that is just a number. It's not a foregone conclusion.''

Scott has pinpointed the opening seven holes as a key to potential victory. He opened last year's Masters with four bogeys over the opening seven to be behind the eight ball from the outset, eventually carding a three-over 75 to be tied 64th. The 32-year-old closed strongly, including a final round 66, to push into a tie for eighth, but knows he'll have to survive the early gauntlet if he is to truly contend for his first major.

''Those six or seven holes are probably the most difficult to play on this golf course, starting out on Thursday with the nerves on the first tee, and then getting yourself to calm down, and they are very demanding holes,'' Scott said.

''I think the most difficult hole out here is the first hole … it asks a lot out of you. A hot start would be great, but I would be happy with just a solid start.''

Being ready from the opening tee shot has been a big focus of Scott's recent major campaigns after a similar slow start at last year's US Open where he was six-over and tied 93rd after day one and recovered to a tie for 15th.

He then started the British Open with a 64 and finished second - after blowing a four-shot lead with four holes to play - and opened the PGA Championship with a 68 and finished 11th. ''Certainly that mindset I took in The Open and the PGA Championship is what I'm looking for and just not go out on the back foot,'' Scott said.

Day is looking to reprise the form of two years ago when he announced himself on the world stage with equal second with Scott on his Masters debut.

In a promising omen, the 25-year-old has been paired with Rickie Fowler for his opening two rounds - just as he was in 2011, when he posted a record second round of eight-under-par 64.

''Obviously not many people are looking at me to win, the odds are probably not in my favour, but you just don't know what's going to happen,'' Day said. ''In 2011, I didn't even think I was going to tee it up in Augusta, and I finished second and had a chance to win the tournament, so who knows.

''I've got to get on the range and nail a few things out and go out there and feel like I own it. I'm not trying to sound cocky. I just want to feel confident and comfortable in my own skin.''

The only two other Australians in the field are John Senden and Marc Leishman, who are yet to make a cut at Augusta National.

AAP

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