Sport Golf

Thursday 29 September 2016

Rory McIlroy heads in one direction at Augusta

Rory recruits Niall Horan as his Par 3 caddie as he looks to make Masters history

Karl MacGinty

Published 08/04/2015 | 02:30

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits off the 12th tee during his practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 7 (REUTERS/Jim Young)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits off the 12th tee during his practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 7 (REUTERS/Jim Young)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and his caddie Jean-Paul Fitzgerald get caught in a rain shower on the tenth fairway during a practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland uses an umbrella to stay dry on the tenth hole during his practice round (REUTERS/Jim Young)
Rory McIlroy at Augusta yesterday

How appropriate that Rory McIlroy will have pop superstar Niall Horan as his caddie in today's Masters Par 3 competition.

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Holywood's world No 1 is determined to go only in One Direction at Augusta National - into history as just the sixth winner of a Career Grand Slam.

Horan, an enthusiastic golfer who plays out of Mullingar, is making his first visit to the Masters. "He's been excited to come here," said McIlroy.

"I caught up with him in Australia at the end of last year and I said, if you're available Wednesday afternoon and you want to carry the bag for nine holes, you're more than welcome."

McIlroy is favourite to slip on the famous Green Jacket next Sunday and Tiger Woods yesterday admitted Augusta National would offer the perfect setting for the Holywood star to complete the set of all four Major titles.

"I look back when I did it in 2000, I couldn't ask for a better place to do it at other than St Andrews, the Home of Golf," said Tiger, who returns from his 60 days' exile from tournament golf in tomorrow's first round.

"And for Rory, you couldn't ask for the other better place to do it, which is here at Augusta. It doesn't get much better than that.

"So he has that opportunity and he's going to have that opportunity for decades to come. But I'm sure he'll have many green jackets in his closet before it's all said and done."

McIlroy tees it up with Ryan Moore and Phil Mickelson tomorrow.

Ironically, McIlroy ended up playing in 'the same group' with the American left-hander as he romped through the darkness to victory in last August's US PGA at Valhalla.

"It'll be good. I've played with Phil a couple times before. There's always a good buzz here at Augusta, where Phil's done so well," he said. "Not sure I've ever played with him here before. I enjoy his company and I enjoy Bones' company, as well. So should be a nice, fun group to be a part of."

McIlroy may be the bookies' favourite for The Masters but he cheekily nominated defending champion Bubba Watson as the form choice for this weekend.

"Bubba's won here two of the last three years. His game is perfect for this course. Has been playing really well. Seems confident every time he tees it up. So if you're looking at someone that will do well this week, Bubba is the main guy, not trying to put any pressure on him or anything," Rory chuckled.

Irish Independent

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