With the Australian curse buried and the distraction of being defending champion behind him, Adam Scott says he only has to get out of his own way to surge towards a second Masters green jacket.
The world No.6 is returning to Augusta National much further under the radar than his 2014 title defence thanks to the circus around Tiger Woods and world No.1 Rory McIlroy’s bid for a career grand slam.
While he will still garner attention next week, particularly after revealing he will switch back to his broomstick putter for the event, Scott says his famous victory two years ago allows him plenty of confidence.
“I tried to embrace everything that came with being the defending champion (last year),” said 34-year-old Scott.
“I know I’ll come back slightly out of the spotlight and I like that.
“It (winning) has taken the weight off my shoulders as I approach majors. It’s all upside for me now.
“I feel like I have proven what I needed to prove to myself. Now I just have to get out of my own way when I am playing well and win more.
“Win another Masters and win all the other majors.
“Realistically the next five years are going to go quick so I have to stay driven and focussed to get what I want out of the game.”
No other player has shown the consistency of Scott in the four biggest tournaments over the last four years, but now he wants to trade it for McIlroy-like results.
The 25-year-old Northern Irishman has four major titles in the last four years while the Scott has a staggering 13 top-15 finishes from the last 16 majors, but just the one win.
While ranked first on the US tour in greens in regulation, Scott is 184th in strokes gained putting, well down from his 55th last year and the catalyst to return to his trusty broomstick after three events with a conventional putter.
It’ll be his last Masters with the long-handled putter he wielded so successfully in his 2013 Augusta triumph as the anchored stroke ban begins after 2015.
Scott is in no doubt his recent run of results at Augusta, where he has been no worse than a tie for 18th since 2010, will ensure he takes confidence, not doubt, into the event.
The rest of the Australian contingent is also primed after Scott’s 2013 victory took away the burden of what was considered an Augusta curse.
World No.5 Jason Day, former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, Victorian Mark Leishman, Queenslander John Senden and amateur Antonio Murdaca each have their own designs on success at the hollowed turf.
While McIlroy, winner of the last two majors, comes in as a heavy favourite and the golfing world waits to learn if 14-time major winner Woods will play following his recent break to overcome chipping yips, Day shares the second line of betting with defending champion Bubba Watson and young gun Jordan Spieth.
The 27-year-old Australian was tied second on debut in 2011 and third in 2013 when Scott won, a title he could have claimed given he held a two-shot lead on the 16th tee on Sunday.
So keen to win the Masters, Day came back from a wrist injury too early in 2014 and battled away to a tie for 20th, a decision that would cost him multiple starts that year.
This season he’s injury-free and with some form, having won at Torrey Pines in February.
“I am feeling good. My game is good. And I have made no secret this is the tournament I really want to win,” Day said.
“I have to make sure I stick to my game plan which has worked out pretty well in the past. I am excited to get going.”
Senden was the leading Australian a year ago in a tie for eighth, but gained significant experience playing in the final group with Watson during the third round.
Ogilvy returns after a two-year absence without little current but has never missed the cut in his previous seven starts at Augusta National while Leishman has a chip on his shoulder and something to prove after his last two trips.
He was tied fourth in 2013 behind Scott and Day after holding the opening round lead and then looked set to back it up last year when he joined the top of the leaderboard three holes into his second round.
But a disastrous next 12 holes saw him drop 10 shots and miss the cut.
Murdaca gets a start as the winner of the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship and at just 19 would be the biggest surprise champion in majors history if he could pull off a miracle.
He will however have his sights on making the cut at perhaps securing the low amateur Silver trophy, which countryman Oliver Goss claimed last year.