Date: April 05, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Pamps going back to the future

Rod Pampling isn't prone to grandiose statements.

He is, though, a great creature of habit.

One of the more interesting quirks Pampling has developed in recent years is a penchant to watch videos of himself when his career was flying.

He and long-time coach Gary Edwin found some old home movies a couple of years ago of his swing circa 2006 – when the proud Queenslander was ranked in the world's top 25 – and noted a few subtle changes had crept in.

Pampling almost immediately righted the ship, then duly came out and finished runner-up to an historic Jordan Spieth performance at the 2014 Emirates Australian Open.

It's something the 47-year-old has done a bit in recent times and, more often than not, it prompts him to a minor modification and good things happen.

So when you hear Pampling in the past week has cracked out the videos of himself during his victory at the US PGA Tour's PGA Shriner Open in Las Vegas in November, it might pay to take note.

At monstrous odds, Pampling will take to Augusta National's fairways this week for his fourth Masters tilt, but his first in a decade.

But don't think for a second that he's thinking anything but going all the way.

"My preparation has been good, I'm hitting it nicely again," Pampling told RSN's Breakfast Club from Augusta this week.

"I went back through my videos from Vegas and just started re-doing that and got those feelings back.

"So the hitting feels good and my past record has been solid."

Once revered as a long-hitter but now mid-pack after the youth power revolution swept through the game, Pampling knows he can't match the likes of favourite Dustin Johnson off the tee.

But what he brings is a knowledge that he's fared well on the Masters layout before – fifth, 16th and 37th in his only starts – and a real confidence in his swing.

"I love the set-up here. It's tree-lined which are the sort of courses I like to play because it tells you what shot to hit off the tee," he said.

"I'm looking forward to it."

Pampling is fully aware that any trip to Augusta might be his last, so has spent as much time as possible taking in his picture-perfect surrounds.

He spoke at length about just arriving at Magnolia Lane and the security protocols to get into the club.

"Then you cruise up and see the Augusta logo in yellow flowers beaming at the end of the street and then you're on to the property.

"It's a magical place, it's hard to describe.

"We can get out on course (before the public gates open) and then you watch this massive wave of people cruising to their spots … it doesn't happen anywhere else.

"There's not too many places like it, that's for sure."

Pampling, whose fifth came in 2005 – the year of Tiger Woods' iconic chip-in on the 16th – on the back of some immaculate short-game work, particularly in a 70-70 weekend with which he scythed through the field.

He knows that's where this week will again be decided.

"It's the greens and around the greens," he said.

"You can hit every green in regulation and walk off 18 over.

"It's that simple – you have to be in the right quadrant of the green to where the pin is to give yourself any opportunity for a birdie or, if not, a two-putt.

"But if you're above the hole, it's extremely difficult."

And history will show you that that's exactly when Pampling is at his best.

Let's just hope he's watched that video, too.