Golf has always been a game of wildly fluctuating fortunes. We have all, for instance,  experienced the thrill of clattering a corker down the middle before following it up with a second shot so unspeakably absurd in execution, it doesn’t just defy belief, it completely destroys it.

When Martin Laird arrived at the Valero Texas Open back in 2013, he was toiling down in a lowly 157th place on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup rankings, he’d missed the cut in four of his previous six events and hadn’t had a top-10 finish for almost a year. Come the Sunday night, though, he had staved off the menace of Rory McIlroy and had his hands clamped on the trophy.

“Golf’s a funny game,” Laird said at the time. “It doesn’t matter what you did two weeks ago, it turns round pretty quickly.”

There would be another quick turnaround for Laird. His victory in San Antonio earned him a last-gasp invitation for the following week’s Masters and the Scot went from the Lone Star State to something of a brow-mopping state as he was suddenly thrust into the line-up for first major of the season. “It just all felt a bit rushed,” he reflected.

This year should be a bit different. Laird is playing in the Texas Open again this week but it’s not win-or-bust as far as The Masters is concerned. His victory at last October’s Shriners Open in Las Vegas, the fourth PGA Tour title of his terrific career, secured his place at Augusta with six months to spare and afforded him time to savour both his success and the prospect of another Masters moment.

“It’s much nicer this way,” admitted the 38-year-old, who played in three successive Masters in 2011, 2012 and 2013 but has been absent ever since. “In 2013, I flew into Augusta on the Sunday after winning and I was still on a high. When you win, it does take a lot out of you. I was dealing with all that on the Sunday and come the Monday the adrenaline kind of disappeared and I just felt a bit tired going into The Masters.

“This time, though, I’ve had my Masters place for a while and I have been able to go there and do some early preparation. Back in 2013, I never really felt like I got to celebrate my win in Texas as the turnaround happened so quickly. When I won in Vegas last October, I had two weeks off after it and it was great. I felt like I was celebrating for a fortnight.”

The Texas Open is a year shy of its centenary and, prior to Laird’s success eight years ago, was won by the redoubtable Scots, Macdonald Smith and Bobby Cruickshank back in the mid-1920s. "It’s a great course to warm up for Augusta and one I clearly like,” added Laird of this happy hunting ground.

An early reconnaissance mission to Augusta just after The Players Championship a couple of weeks ago helped to reacquaint Laird with its bountiful charms, challenges, perils and pitfalls. Once you’ve been there, of course, the memories tend to stay as if seared on the mind with an official, Masters-liveried branding iron. “You don’t forget Augusta,” he said. “Even though I’ve not been there for eight years, you can remember every hole without even really thinking about it.”

One man who was getting a first, wide-eyed peek at Augusta was Laird’s caddie, Kevin McAlpine. As a former bagman to leading female campaigner Lexi Thompson, McAlpine, the son of former Dundee United goalkeeper Hamish, came within a play-off of tasting success in the women’s equivalent of The Masters, the ANA Inspiration, back in 2017.

Now, the men’s showpiece beckons and McAlpine has probably already scribbled down his own Ordnance Survey Map after that initial visit.

“It was a nice refresher for me but it was Kevin’s first look,” said Laird. “When you play it early, you have to employ a local caddie so he carried the bag and Kevin walked round and picked his brain. We get a lot of good stuff from them. The fifth hole was the biggest change since I was there last. It’s maybe 30 yards longer. The more you play Augusta, the more you pick up.”

The real examination of Laird's revision will begin next week.