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For Maja Stark, this week was about applying lessons learned from 2019.
The 21-year-old walked off No. 18 on Saturday at Augusta National Golf Club with a birdie to card a 3-under-par 69 — eight shots better than two years ago. She attributed the performance, in part, to her iron play.
“I think I played pretty steady and my irons were way better today than they were the last couple of days,” she said. “I think it got a little bit frustrating the first couple of days, because the greens weren’t as receptive as they are here.”
Stark started off hot with birdies on Nos. 5, 8 and 9 to make the turn at 3-under. She then made three more birdies on the second nine to erase three bogeys. managed to erase three bogies on the second-nine. Her performance becomes that much more impressive with context, considering she had to survive a playoff on Thursday to get here.
This is a vast improvement from Stark’s 2019 performance at Augusta National, ANGC, which when she finished with a 77 marred by four bogeys, a double and a triple. She took the lessons from that performance and applied them it to Saturday, the biggest of which not being too aggressive.
“It’s just to put yourself in a good position off the tee, not make mistakes or take any overly-aggressive lines,” she said. “I think I did that last time. “
She already had survived a Thursday playoff to make the top 30. For some, being in the first group of the day may bring on extra nerves. Stark, a fast player by trade, considered it an advantage and believes it helped her in the long run.
“I think it was good for the nerves. I like playing fast and I think it really helped that we could just keep going the whole round. We didn’t even see the people behind us a single time. Actually, I wasn’t very nervous so maybe that was it.”
Being her second ANWA start, Stark was able to take more time to enjoy it this time around.
“I was really scared in the beginning of the week that it was going to fly by, but I felt like I’ve been able to enjoy it more this time,” she said. “I didn’t feel like the days were five hours shorter and I’m sad to leave. I’m sad to leave again, but I feel like I didn’t get to enjoy it as much last time.”