Monday 20 November 2017

'Demons' still a big danger for Spieth, insists McIlroy

Rory McIlroy:
Rory McIlroy: "I still get questioned about the back nine at Augusta in 2011"

James Corrigan

Rory McIlroy has warned Jordan Spieth that he will have to bury his Augusta demons in public if he does not want them to monopolise his future Masters build-ups.

The Holywood ace was responding to Spieth's comment here on Monday that he cannot wait for this year's Masters to be over because he is sick of people asking him about 12 months ago, when he blew a four-shot lead with a meltdown that was triggered by putting two balls in the water on the famous par-three 12th.

"No matter what happens at this year's Masters, whether I can grab the jacket back or I miss the cut, it will be nice having this Masters go by," Spieth said. "The Masters lives on for a year. It brings a non-golf audience into golf. And it will be nice once this year's finished, to be brutally honest with you."

His negative thoughts will be a surprise to many, as Spieth has played in the Masters three times and holds the remarkable record of two seconds and a first. But the ongoing inquest has plainly irked the 23-year-old.

"It would be best if I could reclaim the jacket," Spieth said. "But I believe that I'll be back up there sooner or later, with the success I've had and the comfort level I have there. Whether it happens this year or not, it will just be nice (when it's over)."

Spieth believes there will be no ghosts to exorcise, not even at the par-three 12th, where it all came crashing down, allowing England's Danny Willett to win.

The American played Augusta in December and birdied the revered 155-yarder named Golden Bell twice.

"I was very nervous but I hit an eight-iron over the bunker to about 15 feet. I was pumped and then I hit my putt and it just about fell in for two. I gave like a big fist pump. I was walking around with my hands up, like 'demons gone'.

"And I went back the next day and hit a nine-iron and it almost went in, right on the lip. So, the two times I played the hole, I made birdie."

McIlroy has painful experience regarding the length of people's Masters memories. Six years on from conceding his own four-shot advantage in the final round, he is still seeking to change the conversation.

"It's not as if it's going to be the last year Jordan gets questions about it," McIlroy said.


"I still get questioned about the back nine at Augusta in 2011. It's just something you have to deal with. It's not going to go away. It's there and it always will be.

"I sympathise. The guy had a chance to win the Green Jacket and didn't. But he can console himself by opening up his wardrobe and seeing one hanging there. It's a little bit different to me. No matter what happens this year, those questions will still be there."

The WGC Match Play, which tees off at the Austin Country Club here today, is McIlroy's last event before the season's first Major and, after his fourth place at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the world No 2 is one of the favourites for a title he lifted two years ago.

He has been drawn in a group with Soren Kjeldsen, the Dane who he plays today, as well as the Argentinian Emiliano Grillo and the big-hitting American Gary Woodland.

WGC-Dell Match Play, Live, Sky Sports 4, 6pm

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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