On the heels of a breakthrough Tour win in October, Robert Streb is about to stroll down Magnolia Lane. His first Masters will also be his first major. So why isn’t he nervous?
You won your first Tour event, the McGladrey Classic, in October. That earned you a two-year Tour exemption and a trip to Augusta, which will be your first major. How have you been preparing for the Masters, rookie?
[Laughs] I’m obviously pretty excited about it. I’ve been watching it on TV since I was a kid. Just going and getting some practice runs in gives you a feel for the place. Getting to see it will help me concentrate when I get there [for the tournament]. I can’t wait.
Every young golf fan fantasizes about winning the green jacket. What about the Masters captured your imagination as a kid?
It’s so many things. On TV, Augusta is just so green. Nothing’s out of place—everything’s perfect. The back nine usually fires up some pretty good excitement. There are barely any commercials. So, as a golfer and a fan, it’s incredibly exciting. It was always the tournament to watch. It captures your attention like no other event.
You turn 28 on Tuesday of Masters week. A green jacket would make a nice birthday present, but they say it takes experience to solve Augusta. What advice have fellow Tour players offered about handling the course?
Ben Martin told me to get some local knowledge from an Augusta caddie. Hudson Swafford gave me the same advice. Both of them played there in college. It’s important to get all the knowledge you can.
What excites you most about competing there for the first time—besides the pimento-and-cheese sandwiches?
Just experiencing it in person. Like everyone says, it’s so much hillier than it seems on TV, so I look forward to experiencing that.
You don’t seem all that nervous. Does anything scare you about Augusta?
I’m a pretty laid-back, take-it-as-it-comes kind of guy. I’m a little nervous about how close those people sit to the green during the par-3 tournament. [Laughs] Other than that, no.
You played golf for four years at Kansas State before turning pro. Not many guys do that these days.
I needed to finish school. I wasn’t a great player coming out of college, so I needed to get that piece of paper.
What part of your game was lacking back then?
I was an honorable mention All-American my last year at Kansas State, but I didn’t win any tournaments. My ballstriking and short game have improved since, and my course management has obviously gotten better. Overall, it’s been little tidbits here and there, and together it’s all paid off.
Your play has been on an upward trajectory since you turned pro. What’s the learning curve on Tour?
It’s steep. It’s hard work, which people don’t understand. You work six, seven days a week. It’s a job—a fun job, but a job. A big challenge is learning a new, hard course every week, then playing against guys who have played it 15 times. So yes, life on Tour is a learning curve. You have to figure out what works for you and how to get comfortable.
What’s the best perk that comes with being a Tour winner?
Having a job for two more years is pretty cool. It’s nice to have some security.
You live in Shawnee, Kansas, which is not exactly a travel hub for Tour players.
Between the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the start of the season, the weather’s pretty good. I mean, there’s a month of weather that’s not great, but you get a few days here and there where you can go play. Wolf Creek, a club south of town—Tom Watson belongs there, and Gary Woodland plays there, too—is a great place to stay sharp.
Golf fans are still getting familiar with you. What would you like people to know about you?
Just that Tour players are pretty normal people. Don’t be afraid to come up to us and say hi. We’re not going to run you off. We’re just regular people who happen to play golf for a living.
Back to the Masters: No one who’s ever won the Par 3 Contest has gone on that week to win the green jacket. If you’re in the hunt at the Par 3, will you five-putt on purpose?
[Laughs] No, I’m not the superstitious type. That doesn’t bother me at all. I’ll take any trophy I can get from the place!