Sport Golf

Monday 5 December 2016

Tiger Woods: Rory McIlroy will have many green jackets in his closet

Phil Casey

Published 08/04/2015 | 07:45

Tiger Woods of the U.S. smiles during a press conference at Augusta National held during practice rounds ahead of the 2015 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia
Tiger Woods of the U.S. smiles during a press conference at Augusta National held during practice rounds ahead of the 2015 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia

Tiger Woods believes Rory McIlroy will win the Masters several times during his career, although the 14-time major winner is intent on ensuring a first green jacket will not be required on Sunday.

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McIlroy can become the first player since Woods - and only the sixth in history - to complete the career grand slam by winning his third straight major at Augusta National.

"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 Woods on completing his career grand slam at the Open 15 years ago.

"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.

"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."

Woods said he had "worked my ass off" to get his game back in shape after recording a career-worst 82 to miss the cut in Phoenix and then withdrawing from his only other tournament of the year after 11 holes due to injury.

The 39-year-old, who had hoped to return to action in the Arnold Palmer Invitational said winning remained his primary motivation despite appearing to have a more relaxed attitude since arriving at the course on Monday.

"It's nice to be back and seeing some of my old friends out here and get back to competing again," he added. "Whether I have blinders on or not, I don't feel any different. I feel like I'm preparing to try and win the Masters.

"Competing is still the same. I'm trying to beat everybody out there. That hasn't changed. I prepare to win and expect to go and do that.

"The only difference is that I won the Masters when Jordan (Spieth, runner-up in 2014) was still in diapers. That's the difference, is that guys are now younger, a whole other generation of kids are coming out."

McIlroy has recorded just one top-10 finish in six previous appearances at Augusta - last year's tie for eighth - although he did take a four-shot lead into the final round in 2011 before collapsing to a closing 80.

But he believes Augusta National suits his game and cannot wait for the tournament to get under way on Thursday after the hype which has been building since his Open triumph at Hoylake last July.

"I think I've developed a game where I can compete at pretty much any golf course now. That might not have been the case two or three years ago," McIlroy said. "But if you're looking at the courses, Augusta's the one that should set up the best for me just with my ball flight and being comfortable off the tee here, especially being able to turn the ball over from right to left.

"If I can play the way I know I can around here and just have a good week on the greens, then there's no reason why I shouldn't have a good chance."

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