Continued from page 1

He picked his aunt’s brain on handling the added distractions at a major. He’s talked with Jack Nicklaus, and he’s paid close attention during his practice rounds with three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson.

“I found myself just kind of watching Phil, what he was doing off to the side, just seeing how he prepared,” Bradley said. “He’s preparing so hard for this tournament that he’s won three times. It just shows how hard you have to work to win this tournament. Or any tournament.”

Most importantly, Bradley made sure to get in several practice rounds at Augusta National before this week even began. Anyone who gets a glimpse of the famed course is in awe of it, golfers included, and one of the biggest challenges for a first-timer is not being overwhelmed by Augusta’s beauty and grandeur, to say nothing of its history.

After watching the Masters on television for so many years, Bradley couldn’t wait to hit his tee shots on 12 and 13, the second and third holes in Amen Corner, the first time he played here. The whole experience has been “really awesome,” he said.

Come Thursday, though, he’ll have to try to treat Augusta National like any other course. No azaleas, no Eisenhower Tree, and definitely no gawking at the massive crowds sure to await him on every hole. Though Bradley is playing with Schwartzel and U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, it’s the group behind him, featuring a guy named Tiger Woods, that’s the main attraction.

“It’s got a magical feel to it, almost,” Bradley said. “That’s the part of it that I think you need to put aside when you’re playing the tournament.”

___

Follow Nancy Armour at http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour