Thursday 22 March 2018

'Rory McIlroy will never dominate like Tiger Woods did' - Colin Montgomerie

US Masters: Scot says Woods' feat won't be matched

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Former victorious Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie fears the weight of expectation will work against Rory McIlroy as he attempts to complete his collection of Major titles at The Masters, which gets underway today.

McIlroy is aiming to become the first European player this century to win a Masters green jacket, but Montgomerie told that the Irishman faces a huge task to overcome pressure that may be too much for him to cope with.

Speaking at an event to promote Sky Sports’ coverage of all-four days of The Masters, Montgomerie offered his unique insight into the latest battle for what is, arguably, the greatest prize in golf.

Q: Rory McIlroy is the red-hot faviourite for this year’s Masters, but does that tag make his task at Augusta even more daunting?

CM: Think there’s a lot of pressure on Rory. To think about history possibly in the making here, when you think Arnold Palmer never achieved a grand slam of majors in his career, and he was the king of golf. So that puts into perspective what an achievement it would be. However, there’s a lot of good golfers right behind him.

Q: So is being such a strong favourite actually a handicap for McIlroy?

CM: Expectation in anything is hard. He is expected to win, so it is a difficult task. If he gets off to a rough or an indifferent start, say, sometimes difficult to come back from because the standard is now so good and so tight. So, no I think the task, as opposed to being easier for Rory, is actually quite difficult. In saying that, he’s good enough. We all know that. He’s well good enough to win this Masters, definitely.

Q: Explain what pressure can do to a golfer in a Major tournament.

CM: Well, Rory showed it himself back in 2011, when he gave up a big lead on the last day at the Masters. Pressure in a Major, especially on the final day, can be difficult to deal with. I’m not saying that he can’t cope with that, my God, he’s the best player in the world. I think anyone in that field, all 80 competitors, would say the same thing, that Rory, if you asked who is the best player in the world, they would all say the same thing. And that hasn’t happened for a while, since Tiger’s dominance back at the turn of the century. So it is interesting what’s going to happen, and how he’s going to react to this immense task.

Q: Does McIlroy already have claims to be the greatest European golfer of all time?

CM: He is making history at a very young age. If he does win the Masters this next week, he will be the youngest ever to achieve the grand slam of golf by winning all four Majors. So yes, this is someone that is going to become Europe’s most successful golfer. In what is a great era for the sport, Rory is a special player.

Q: Is McIlroy capable of dominating golf in a manner Tiger Woods did when he was in his prime?

CM: I don’t think we’ll ever see the dominance that Tiger had in the year 2000. The golf that was played and the way that it was done, in winning these Majors by eight and 15 shots, it was just incredible stuff. Rory has won the last two Majors, and let’s hope for the sake of British and Irish golf, and European golf, that he can do something that has only been achieved once in the modern era.

Q: Who do you see as the chief rivals to McIlroy?

CM: You think of Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and hey, who knows about Tiger Woods. He wouldn’t be playing if he didn’t think he could contend.  Patrick Reed you can’t discount either. So, there’s a lot of good golf behind Rory and the baton’s been taken up by these new guys.

Q: Tiger Woods has finally confirmed that he will play at The Masters, but do you ever see him winning Major titles again?

CM: From what we’ve seen of Tiger this season the answer to that has to be no. Has he gone back to work things out, has he been coaching, has he thrown the coach out the window, has he decided this is, I’m doing this on my own, I’m good enough to do this, I’d like to think not. I would like to think there are some wins in Tiger yet.

Q: European golfers have succeeded in all the other Majors of late, but not at The Masters. Is there any reason for that?

CM: That bad run for European players can change now. Let’s hope that we’ve got a real strength in Europe  and you think of the golfers ranked one and two in the world are European, followed by a number of others. Somebody can come through. I think this year could well be it. I think it’s just purely coincidence that our players have not done well there in recent years and let’s hope that is the case.

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