Sport Golf

Sunday 18 February 2018

Rory McIlroy: Augusta should suit me better than any other course

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy admits Thursday cannot come soon enough as he bids to complete the career grand slam by winning the Masters.

The hype surrounding McIlroy's attempt to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning all four major titles has been building since the night before his Open victory at Hoylake last July.

And although the return of Woods to competitive action after two months on the sidelines has taken some of the spotlight off McIlroy, the world number one is anxious to let his clubs do the talking.

"I said in the middle of last week, 'If Augusta was to start tomorrow, I'd be okay. I'm ready,'" McIlroy said on Tuesday.

"I think that's a good indication of where I am with my game. I've been ready for this thing to start for a week already so just trying to keep my game where it is and do some quality work, not overdo it.

"Just do the right amount so that when I got here yesterday for the first time, I was ready to play and just needed to go see the golf course. I wasn't working on anything in my game, my swing. Wasn't thinking about technique at all. Just all about hitting the shots I need to and thinking about how to manage my game and get it around here for the next four days.

"Results-wise, the last three tournaments haven't been what I've wanted. I still feel like there's plenty of positives to take from them, especially Doral and Bay Hill, I felt like I played pretty good there. A couple silly mistakes here and there, but for the most part I felt like I got what I needed out of them.

"But the last two weeks have been great. I've just practised at home in Florida and made another trip up here a couple of Fridays ago.

"I just really felt like spending a couple of weeks away from this (media attention), I guess, and just preparing at home and in private and not really having everything critiqued and analysed and over-analysed. I just wanted to get away from it all, and I feel like it's been a good thing."

McIlroy followed Woods into the media centre at Augusta National and admitted the presence of the 14-time major winner - who was relaxed and jovial with the press - could work in his favour.

"A little bit, I guess," the 25-year-old added. "It is such a big story, Tiger coming back at the Masters after a bit of a lengthy period where he has not been around. But still I'm just here to play golf and you guys can write the stories, I won't read them and we'll move on."

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.

He admits he will have to play the par fives better to have a chance of slipping on a green jacket on Sunday, covering them in level par last year compared to eight under by champion Bubba Watson, who finished eight shots ahead.

But he also believes Augusta National suits his game if he can take advantage of having a nine iron in his hands for second shots to holes like the 13th and 15th.

"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 added.

"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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