By Andrew Both
AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - As brawny Bryson DeChambeau and other long hitters prepare to bludgeon their way around a firm and fiery Augusta National, the less powerful players must plot another way to get the job done at the Masters starting on Thursday.
DeChambeau hits his drives an average of 320 yards and has spoken almost flippantly about cutting the corner at the first hole by smashing his tee shot over the bunker guarding the right portion of the fairway some 300 yards from the tee.
But many other players don't even flirt with the sand, left with little choice except to aim down the middle and face a much longer approach shot at the 445-yard, par-four hole.
"No doubt the long hitters are going to be feeling pretty good this week," world number 56 Brendan Todd told Reuters as he stood almost anonymously chatting with friends behind the 18th green on Wednesday.
The American averages 275 yards with his driver, some 45 yards less than DeChambeau.
"They have an advantage," Todd said. "They're bringing wedges into the firm greens and they're getting a lot of roll so they don't even have to hit drivers to get it out there pretty far."
Todd has a simple approach to most holes.
"The middle of the fairway is my line every time. Wherever you see the middle is, that's where I'm going."
Todd, 35, missed the cut in his past two Masters appearances, and says he is still learning the nuances of a course where experience and course knowledge offer a decisive edge, particularly on and around the greens.
Under the tutelage of former tour player turned instructor Brad Hughes, Todd was the hottest player in the game towards the end of 2019, winning two starts in a row on the PGA Tour and nearly pulling off a rare hat-trick before finishing fourth.
He believes he is close to bottling that magic again.
"Really close for sure," he said. "It just comes down to getting my mind in the right place and holing putts because I'm hitting it well."
(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Ed Osmond)