Aces high for McIlroy: Rory McIlroy began his Masters preparation in spectacular fashion yesterday by hitting a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at Augusta.
McIlroy holed out with a seven iron from 170 yards to complete a 3&2 win in his practice match against England’s Chris Wood.
“I don’t think I have ever heard a roar that large in a practice round,” the four-time Major winner said. “It was great. It was a nice practice round and a bit of a highlight. And it ended the match as well. It gets me into a nice mindset of this is how I’m going to play, so I’m going to try to do the same tomorrow, play 18 and a match with someone.”
Fred backs out
Fred Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, yesterday withdrew from the tournament citing a back injury. Couples has been plagued with back problems for years and the withdrawal stalls his total Augusta appearances at 31, dating back to his debut in 1983 and including last year. There is no call-up for a late replacement. As of now, that means 89 starters.
Pop idol Niall a hit
One Direction star Niall Horan will not caddie for Rory McIlroy at the Par 3 Contest because Rory is giving the pre-tournament event a miss. The pop idol did enjoy playing 46 holes on the ‘real’ course at Augusta National on Friday and Saturday, and attended the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship national finals on Sunday, much to the delight of autograph-hunting fans.
Number of the day
1 - Tom Watson, 66, is the only player in the field who is in his sixties. He plays his 43rd and final Masters this week.
Quote of the day
“I have no recollection of it. . .”
– Shane Lowry, 29, can’t remember watching a European winner of The Masters. The last one was Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999.
Local boy Taylor
Vaughn Taylor is Augusta born and bred. His Masters memories go back to 1986 when he was pictured in the ‘Augusta Chronicle’ getting Billy Casper’s autograph at the Par 3 event.
“Happy memories,” said Taylor, who wants to make some more special memories this week. He qualified by winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, coming from six shots behind to snatch the win at Phil Mickelson’s expense. The previous week, he withdrew through illness from a Web.Com tournament in Bogota.
“Always believe in yourself, no matter what your game feels like or where at playing and what’s going on” is the lesson he took from those experiences.