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Golf

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Leishman pick of Aussies at Masters: Faldo

Nick Faldo has declared Marc Leishman the Australian to watch at this week's Masters, while urging Jason Day to play with more finesse at Augusta National.

Casting his eye over the four Australians preparing to tee up in the year's first major from Thursday, three-time Masters champion Faldo rated Leishman among a pool of players with a genuine chance of donning the green jacket.

"Leishman has been good; his putting was great (at the WGC-Match Play) in Texas and I've got him as one of my 20 guys who could win it," said Englishman Faldo, now a highly-regarded TV commentator on the game.

World No.19 Leishman's results this season support Faldo's backing and the 35-year-old has knocking at the door for a maiden major championship breakthrough in recent years.

Faldo hoped former world No.1 Day's recent back injury issues would not hold him back at Augusta.

"How do I rate (Day's) game? It's usually good but it can get a bit restricted if his back tightens up ... we've seen it a couple of times," said Faldo.

World No.14 Day practised for several hours at Augusta on Sunday after telling AAP a day earlier that his back "feels good" after seven days of rest and physiotherapy.

Although Day owns a runner-up finish, a third place and another top-10 in eight starts at the Masters, six-time major champion Faldo said the Queenslander needed to swing smoother on his iron shots if he wanted to climb the Augusta leaderboards.

"We know he goes at it 100 per cent; I'd love to see him play more half shots and soft shots, but it's not really his (method of operation)," Faldo said.

"I'm sure he says 'I do play half shots', but they don't look they don't look like that from the outside at times.

"This is a thinking man's golf course; you have to power it in the right places and then you have to hit really hit smart iron shots in the right places."

Rounding out the Australian contingent at the Masters is 2013 winner Adam Scott and his fellow Queenslander Cameron Smith.

Scott, the 2013 champion, has made the cut in 15 of his 17 Masters appearances.

Having skipped the recent WGC-Match play to focus on Masters preparation, he played a practice round with his father, Phil, on Sunday afternoon.

Smith was due to arrive for practice Monday. He fired a final-round 66 to finish last year's Masters as the leading Australian in a share of fifth.

--End of article--

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