Monday 26 September 2016

Here are the reasons Rory McIlroy should be hopeful of making a final day Masters comeback

Published 10/04/2016 | 11:25

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 09: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 09: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the third round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy shot a disastrous birdie-free round of 77 yesterday evening that included three bogeys and a double bogey but all is not lost as he attempts to catch Jordan Spieth and complete the career Grand Slam at The Masters.

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McIlroy is currently on +2 in a tie for 11th, which is five shots behind the American, who leads the field at -3. Five shots is a massive gap to make up on the final day of a major, but there are a few factors working in the Irishman's favour.

Firstly, the weather forecast is actually good for a change. Bar the morning of the first round, Augusta National has been plagued by high winds that have made low scoring very difficult. McIlroy hasn't played the conditions well at all, but they should be more favourable this afternoon.

Also, the Sky Sports analysts last night speculated that the tournament organisers will likely set up the course so that it benefits golfers who attack the pin. Augusta officials like low scoring on the final day because it builds drama and increases TV audiences.

Think of 2004, when Ernie Els shot a -5 round that included two eagles as he almost denied Phil Mickelson a first major title. Those sort of rounds are possible today given the likely weather and course set-up.

There is also precedent for overturning a big final round deficit to win the Masters. Nick Faldo famously erased a six shot deficit in 1996 after he shot a 67 to Greg Norman's horrid 78.

There have been a few similar collapses like that in the tournament's history but a better comparison for McIlroy's position today is how Gary Player took home the green jacket in 1978.

Player was tied for tenth going into the final round, and like McIlroy today, teed off early in the afternoon. The South African went out and shot a sensational 64 to hold the clubhouse lead, and eventually won the tournament by a single stroke.

If McIlroy gets on a run, there is no doubt that he can do something similar, and then it will be up to Jordan Spieth and the rest of the field to deny him the only major title missing from his golfing CV.

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