Rory McIlroy: It's my destiny to win Green Jacket
Rory McIlRoy believes it is his destiny to win the Masters. Despite his turbulent history at the event, McIlroy thinks so highly of Augusta he cannot contemplate ending his career without a green jacket.
"I honestly can't," McIlroy said as he prepared for his sixth tilt at the Masters. "I adore Augusta and the Masters.
"Every time I play my practice rounds, I finish on the 18th green and I'm like 'is that it – can't I play some more?'
"And the more you go back, the more comfortable you become. So I'd be upset if, at the end of my playing days, I wasn't able to go up and have breakfast in the Champions' Locker Room."
McIlroy knows it is not a given and with his controversial history at Augusta, that's hardly surprising.
It began in 2009 with a threat of disqualification and was capped in 2011 with a very public capitulation. Four clear at the start of the final day, he shot an 80 which has lived with him ever since. Yet at least Mother Nature has come to his aid.
The ice storm which recently felled the Eisenhower Tree, the loblolly pine on the 17th hated by the 34th President of the USA, also brought down Rory's Branch!
That infamous limb of a dead tree triggered one of golf's most famous collapses when McIlroy's pulled drive on 10 took a wicked deflection and ended up behind a cabin, eventually costing him a triple-bogey seven.
"That branch I hit has gone!" said McIlroy, beaming. "I found that out last week when I went for my early practice rounds ... but if I was in that position again I don't think it'd matter. I'd know what to do this time."
Though he has won two Majors and rose to world No 1, that remains the only Sunday opportunity he has had at the Masters. His share of 15th in 2011 is his best Augusta finish, which seems daft.
"The way I play golf, the way my game is, Augusta does set up well for me. So not to have a top 10 after five Masters isn't good," he conceded.
"In the last couple of years I've been in a great position going into the weekend and thrown in a bad nine holes here or there. I've been thinking to myself 'two-under through three, get off to a good start'. But sometimes when you're pushing too hard, it goes the other way."
"It's one of those courses that if you are a little off, it magnifies."
Now he's over 2013 and what he calls "my blip", McIlroy says he has that "2011 feeling. I'm playing nicely and am comfortable with my game. I've been in contention, without getting the win. I'm waiting for that week where everything clicks."
Together with fiancee Caroline Wozniacki, he returns to Augusta with the dream as enticing as ever.
"The Masters feels bigger because there have been eight months since the last Major. It adds to the hype, as does returning to the same venue," he said.
"We've been going back to the house for the last few years, because it has a tennis court and a good gym. The weather doesn't look great for the Par Three competition tomorrow but if I play, Caroline will carry the bag around again."
There will be something slightly different in the pictures to last year, however.
This year there is a ring on Wozniacki's finger and reports have emerged of another soon to join it with a wedding planned for New York at the end of the year.
"I don't know where they've got that from – 'sources', I suppose," McIlroy said with a laugh. "Yes, it could be. We'll see. It's definitely nothing to do with me anyway! I just say 'yes, how much?'"
McIlroy's in a good place ... in fact, he's in his favourite place and now only requires what would become his most treasured garment – a Green Jacket.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)