Kjeldsen looks to relive happy times at Augusta

Soren Kjeldsen believed he was headed for a forgettable week at the Masters Tournament last year because he was so “desperate to play well.”

“I got myself really worked up,” recalled the 41-year-old from Denmark, who hadn’t qualified to play at Augusta National since 2010. “I had a week at home before the tournament where I worked really hard – maybe too hard and I tried to be too perfect before getting there. Then I got there and I felt flat.”

A meeting on Monday of Masters Week with his longtime sports psychologist Bob Rotella calmed him down, he said. The result was a tie for seventh place and a return trip this year by finishing among the top 12.

“Thank God I met with Bob Rotella,” Kjeldsen said. “We sat down and spoke for an hour and a half and he got me into a really nice place. From that little chat on Monday, the rest of the week I loved every second of it.”

What did “Doctor Bob,” as Rotella is known on the tour, say to the Dane?

“He put things into perspective, just realizing how fortunate I was just being there, being there with my family,” Kjeldsen said. “He put a nice thought in my head. He told me to show your kids how much you can go out there, even though you desperately want to play well, show them how much you can go out there and enjoy yourself. Play with a smile on your face. It’s going to be a big lesson for them. So that’s what I did and we had a wonderful week.”

Kjeldsen started ­– and finished strong – at Augusta National, shooting 69-74-74-71 for 288, five shots behind winner Danny Willett.

“I’m obviously really excited (to return),” Kjeldsen said. “It’s a place I love more than any other place. Last year I was playing well when I got into the tournament. A little bit of a slow start this year, but form is starting to pick up so I’m really excited. From the first time I got there, I felt really comfortable. It sets up nicely for the way I play. It’s one of those places where it’s difficult to wipe the smile off your face.”

Just over seven months after the Masters, Kjeldsen enjoyed another memorable week. He and fellow Dane Thorbjorn Olesen teamed to win the World Cup of Golf in Australia. They trailed by four shots at the start of the final round and shot a best-ball 66 to give Denmark its first-ever win in the event, then in its 58th year.

“It was a huge honor,” Kjeldsen said. “It’s something I’m very happy to have on my résumé. Week in and week out we play for ourselves and now and again we play for something bigger. To team up with Thorbjorn and play as well as we did and tasting that success, that was very special.

“Golf is very big in Denmark,” Kjeldsen said. “It’s probably the second or third biggest sport in the country.”

Kjeldsen is one of a handful of Danes to play in the Masters, joining Olesen, Thomas Bjorn, Anders Hansen and Soren Hansen. Only Olesen, who finished tied for sixth in 2013, has a higher finish than Kjeldsen’s seventh place last year.

Kjeldsen is the only player from Denmark in this year’s Masters.

One thing Kjeldsen hasn’t done in his previous three Masters is play a practice round with his hero, two-time champion Bernhard Langer.

“Hopefully it will happen this year,” Kjeldsen said. “He’s been my role model ever since growing up. Therefore I used the same putting grip he used for a long time. Bernhard has always been the guy I admire and the guy I try to look up to and learn from. He’s been very good for me.

“He’s always ready for a chat when I want to talk to him. He’s always got time. He’s just such a great inspiration the way he plays at quite an advanced age. He’s just amazing.”