Commentary

Precision a necessity at Augusta

Originally Published: April 10, 2009
By Ryuji Imada | Special to ESPN.com

What a day! I've got to start off with the up and down I made on 18 to make the cut on the number at 1-over par on Friday.

Masters correspondent Ryuji Imada


Masters rookie Ryuji Imada will make his first stroll down Magnolia Lane as a competitor on Thursday. All week, the 32-year-old Tampa, Fla., resident will share his insights into being inside the ropes at Augusta National with ESPN.com.

Imada has one PGA Tour victory (the 2008 AT&T Classic) and has earned more than $6.5 million since joining the tour in 2005.

While attending the University of Georgia, Imada was a first-team All-American in 1999, leading the Bulldogs to their first NCAA championship. He was the runner-up in the individual competition.

Imada moved from his native Japan to Florida when he was 14 and captured his first junior tournament at 15.

Make sure to check back daily during the Masters for Imada's commentary on the year's first major championship.

Earlier diaries

• Something still to play for

• Pressure-packed 18th

• Thursday's frustrations

• Ready for Thursday

• Prep started in November

I was up and down all day, still struggling to get the correct speed on my putts again. I just haven't made very much. My second shot on 18 found the right greenside bunker, missing my target by a mere foot. I cannot explain how precise you must be on this golf course and how much difference a foot can mean.

If my ball lands a foot left on the 18th green, it catches the slope and I have a birdie putt inside 10 feet. Instead, it bounced right and I was left some serious work.

I noticed on the leaderboard earlier in the day that Chad Campbell finished at 9-under and I knew for sure that the 10-shot rule [In which players within 10 shots of the lead make the cut] would make 1-over safe. I obviously figured the cut wouldn't move 2 shots from even and I had my mind made up that I needed an all-world up and down or I was going home.

In my practice rounds, I had putted and played some pitch shots to some hole locations down in the front of the green earlier in the week, but none from that bunker. I picked out a spot about 30 feet right of the hole and just tried to make the ball stop on that spot and let the ground do the rest.

The result was I ended up with about a 7 footer to make the cut in my first Masters. It was a left edge read and I buried it. Some of you might have noticed I gave it a little fist pump. I'm not the most emotional guy out there, but to make the one I absolutely had to make was nice and I'm ready to make it worth it this weekend!

I've played games thinking about getting it up and down or making a putt on the last hole of the Masters to win, etc. It feels good to come through in the clutch after so many years of preparing for this chance.

I woke up and saw the trees blowing and knew we were all in for a firmer test today. There's no doubt that if you analyze the leaderboard you'll see the majority of the leaders played in the late/early wave. Conditions were fairly windy yesterday morning and calmed in the afternoon.

As luck would have it, a storm front moved through late this afternoon and it was extremely difficult to judge the strength and direction of the wind at times. I hit it 25 yards over the green on both 15 and 17.

It's incredible how much the wind swirls and changes on you. I've watched, read and heard guys talk about it for years, but to stand in the fairway on 15 today with 30 mph gusts and hit to that target was a challenge that TV doesn't do justice.

Speaking of the wind, many of you saw my playing partner Padraig Harrington receive a penalty on 15 for his ball moving after he had addressed it. It was really frustrating for me because we had to wait for two separate rules officials to give their opinions. Paddy had previously received a favorable ruling sometime on tour and was hoping for the same today.

The wind was gusting. He had addressed his ball and it moved a few feet to the right. While this was going on, I still had to focus on the 3 feet I had left just to save par, which I was able to rake in.

There was nothing Paddy did wrong. It's just unfortunate to have things like that happen because it messes everyone's rhythm up. You can't fault a guy for exhausting his options, but from my vantage point it was fairly obvious what transpired.

I'm out first tomorrow with Stuart Appleby and I'm thrilled to be here but not at all satisfied with how I've scored through two days.

Stuart is a good guy who's played well here in the past. We have played together a good bit and it should be a nice day. I've played too well not to be under par at this point, but major championships are all about patience and I've got a good feeling about tomorrow morning.

If you guys see me start making some putts, watch out, it could be a fun weekend!

Thanks,
Ryuji

Ryuji Imada joined the PGA Tour in 2005. You can visit his official Web site for more information.