English relishes his first Masters

"The one thing that I have tried to bring to Harris that's helped a lot is being very patient and calm no matter what the situation is," Smith said. "Going into Augusta, my local knowledge in tournament conditions will be beneficial to him and then it's just a matter of execution."

Last June, English won his first PGA Tour event at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. After he made consecutive bogeys on holes eight and nine at the TPC Southwind in Memphis, Smith gave him a pep talk. English would go on to birdie two out of his last three holes to hold off Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings for a two-shot win.

"Brian has made me a lot more comfortable out here because he knows everybody and he knows my game," said English, who took his second career win with Smith on his bag in Mexico at the Mayakoba Classic in November. "He almost gets better as a caddie when I get into contention."

Smith is excited about his boss' chances at Augusta.

"I think the course sets up well for Harris even though he fades the ball with his driver," Smith said. "He can draw his 3-wood and hit it far enough to take advantage on those right to left holes."

Taylor, who lives near English on Sea Island, Ga., agrees.

"Physically, Augusta sets up well for Harris," he said. "It's just a matter of him not being in awe of everything. He should prepare for this one like he does for all the other tournaments and not get caught up in the whole hooray of it all. That's going to be difficult, but I think he's mentally prepared for it."

With Tiger Woods out of the Masters, and other top players like Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott winless so far in 2014, English shouldn't be ruled out as a major contender at Augusta. In 1979, Fuzzy Zoeller became the last first-timer in the Masters to take the green jacket.

English is a part of a very talented group of Masters first-timers that includes Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed, who was briefly his teammate at Georgia. Walker and Reed have combined for five PGA Tour victories this season.

The only thing keeping these players from contending in this first major of the year is perhaps inexperience around the course and the pressure of the stage. But English and these other rising stars aren't likely to stumble when they see the big names on the leaderboard.

In February, English took out McIlroy in 19 holes in the second round of WGC-Accenture Match Play, where he only trailed the former No. 1 in the world for a single hole. To many that was an upset, but the golf world should become accustomed to English and McIlroy battling each other over the next decade in major championships and Ryder Cups.

"I almost feel like I belong now," English said. "My rookie year I had an idea about what it took to be on the PGA Tour, but I didn't really know what was going on. Now I feel like I have a lot more confidence in my game and myself. I'm so much more comfortable playing against the greatest players in the world."

English now feels accustomed to playing with the big names. "During my rookie year," he said, "it would make me nervous when I saw Tiger or Phil walk onto the practice green. I was a little starstruck. It's not that I'm more serious now. I'm just trying to take care of business."

When English was at Georgia, he played Augusta National annually, but never in tournament conditions. It was his favorite day of the year.

Around Christmas, he received his formal invitation to the 2014 Masters in the mail. It brought a huge smile to his face.

"This is my chance," he thought to himself. "This is what I have been waiting for."

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