Sunday 25 September 2016

Marcus Fraser targets a place at Augusta

Published 24/02/2016 | 11:11

Marcus Fraser has his eyes on the prize of a Masters debut in April
Marcus Fraser has his eyes on the prize of a Masters debut in April

Australia's Marcus Fraser has his sights set on a Masters debut as he looks to follow last week's victory in Kuala Lumpur with another impressive performance on home soil.

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Fraser's victory at the Maybank Championship Malaysia was his first since 2010 and lifted him from 142nd in the world rankings to 62nd, just 11 places below his career-high from February 2013.

The top 50 in the rankings on March 28 will receive an invite to the first major of the year and Fraser would love to make his maiden trip to Augusta National in April.

"It's at the front (of my mind)," the 37-year-old said ahead of the Perth International. "At the start of last week I couldn't have been further away from thinking about that but now, all of a sudden, it's been thrown in front of me.

"It's a great opportunity. I've never played the Masters. It's something as golfers we all dream of doing. I've got no one else to blame if it doesn't happen and it's entirely up to me to try to do everything I can to prepare properly to try to get one of those spots."

Fraser was 15th at Lake Karrinyup in 2014 - the tournament was not staged last year - as Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen claimed his second European Tour title.

Olesen went on to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last year and with his other win coming in the last staging of the Sicilian Open in 2012, this week represents his first opportunity to defend a title.

"I've never tried it before, so I don't really know how it's going to feel on Thursday," the 26-year-old said. "But I've been looking forward to this tournament and looking forward to defending. Hopefully it will be a good week.

"I think it puts more pressure on you but it's also nice to go out there and know you can win on this golf course. There are so many players who can win, you see that every week on the European Tour. You've got to play some great golf and you've got to hole the putts to be up there in contention.

"It's always difficult, but it's nice for me to know that I played well on this golf course and I really enjoy it."

Ryder Cup star Victor Dubuisson, who was second to Olesen in 2014, and former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen are also in the field, with Oosthuizen looking to get his game into top shape ahead of the Masters.

"It's been a bit of a shaky start with the missed cut in Dubai," said the South African, who lost a play-off to Bubba Watson at Augusta in 2012. "I played really nicely in Qatar and didn't expect to play that badly the first two rounds in Dubai.

"I played okay last week (finishing 12th). I still need to really improve to get my game to where I want it to be.

"The Masters is on everyone's mind now, so I've got a lot of work to get it right until then. I've got a few more tournaments to play. Hopefully something can spark this week.

"What everyone is trying to achieve is to get your game really sharp in a major week. The top players have found the way to do that, to really come into a major and be on form. I need to perform well to start the process of getting ready for Augusta."

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