Friday, 19 March 2010
World Golf Championships-CA Championship - Round One  (Getty Images)
World Golf Championships-CA Championship - Round One (Getty Images)

Paul Casey can remember the pain of it all too easily and so can Ian Poulter. Now they have the chance and are in the mood to hit back at what Augusta National Golf Club did to them.

The last day of the 2008 Masters Tournament brought glory for South African Trevor Immelman, but it was gory for the two British stars and members of The European Tour.

Casey was lying fourth with a round to go. His hopes of a first major disappeared when he double-bogeyed the fourth and then saw his ball move as he addressed a putt on the sixth. He called the penalty on himself.

Poulter was lying seventh and after two opening birdies all things remained possible for him too. But he bogeyed the third and double-bogeyed the fifth, sixth and seventh.

Game over. Casey finished with a round of 79 and dropped to 11th, Poulter a 78 for 25th place.

"As they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," said Casey. "I'll go away and think about this and I've got to take the positives out of it as I always try to do.

"This is going to make work even harder."

Poulter blamed the 25mph winds for his slump and, given that Immelman scored 75 and still won, he was not going to beat himself up about what happened.

"I've not done an awful lot wrong and there's no way I'm going to walk off thinking I've just had a 'mare," he stated.

"I haven't hit a bad iron shot, to be honest with you. So what can you do?"

What he did, of course, was finish second to Padraig Harrington in The Open Championship three months later, then top score with four points out of five at The Ryder Cup - after being given a wild card by Nick Faldo.

Casey was Faldo's other pick, but although he did not have such a happy time at Valhalla Golf Club - two halves and one defeat - he has really stepped things up this year.

Victory in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in January was his first since the same event two years earlier, then two months ago he reached the final of the World Golf Championships - Accenture Match Play before losing to Geoff Ogilvy.

Augusta has been on his mind ever since then and at the Shell Houston Open on Sunday he gave himself the perfect boost by capturing his first title on the US PGA Tour in a play-off with American JB Holmes.

"I think I'm finally getting to the stage where I'm starting to have belief in myself," said the new World Number Six.

"Now I feel comfortable out here and I think that shows in the golf I've played."

The latest purple patch follows his wedding to American Jocelyn Hefner in December and he joked: "Should have got married sooner, shouldn't I?"

As for what happened at the Masters Tournament 12 months ago, he prefers to take an overall view.

"Four appearances, three top 11 finishes - it's not bad. I don't feel like I've got something to prove and I've got to go back and rid the demons or something like that.

"It will be the Masters 2009 and it's a new tournament. I can't step on the first tee with any sort of dash with any thoughts of last year.

"One shot at a time. How am I going to get around this golf course today and in as few a shots as possible?

"Augusta National provides one of the greatest challenges in the game of golf. I love being here, it's as simple as that.

"It's a golf course which as soon as I come through the gates I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy the beauty, the crowds.

"This is a golf course that I would love to continue to play the rest of my life."

He can, of course, if he wins.

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