No guarantees of Masters success for Rory


We’ve been here before, Rory McIlroy and The Masters.
According to the perceived wisdom, Rory’s game is tailor-made for Augusta National.
It’s a done deal. He’s bound to win it. The Holywood golfer will pull on the green jacket and join the list of golfing greats to complete the grand slam.
It’s all nonsense of course. Speak to Greg Norman about winning at Augusta or ask Phil Mickelson about the grand slam. The 48-year-old is still waiting on that elusive US Open win to book his own place amongst the golfing legends. Nearly 20 years of trying and he’s finished second six times.
There is ample evidence to suggest that Augusta National suits the games of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Keopka and Justin Rose just as well as Rory, maybe even better. And if they are considered genuine contenders, can anyone seriously rule out in-form Francesco Molinari or Paul Casey?
The truth is that some parts of Rory’s game, his driving, his long iron play give him an advantage at Augusta, but his inconsistent wedge game and his shaky putting have held him back.
Yet for all that, as the 29-year-old gears up for the opening major of the season, and his 11th appearance at The Masters, there are genuine reasons to be positive about his chances, the most significant being his very strong competitive start to the season.
At the back end of last year, when he signaled his intentions to stay closer to home in Florida and focus more on the US PGA Tour it was seen by many as a direct slap in the face to the European Tour.
He insisted that it was all about getting back to the summit of the game and his performances would suggest that he made the right decision. No missed cuts, seven top 10’s, a second and crucially a win at the Players’ Championship where he had to dig deep after an early wobble.
He is now up to third in the world and his putting has certainly improved under the guidance of former tour pro Brad Faxon but his wedge play still needs some work, especially from 75-100 yards in. Even just a small gain could make a decisive difference.
He also heads to Augusta full of confidence following that win at Sawgrass but the real test will be how he deals with expectation levels, both public and personal. He has spoken in recent months about the three P’s – patience, perspective and poise – and that mantra will surely be put to the test at Augusta.
Ahead of the recent Dell Match-play event he said; “I would have said a couple of years ago, ‘I need to win a Masters. I need a Green Jacket’. Where now it’s, ‘I want to. I want to win it. And I’d love to win it’. But if I don’t I’m okay.
“I’ve had ten years of learning at Augusta, some tough times. And if one day I’m able to get that Green Jacket at the end of 72 holes, all of those experiences will have played a part in helping me do that. So have I a desire to do it? Yes. Do I have a need to do it? No.”
He’s playing well, he’s seemingly in a good place mentally only time will tell if 2019 will be his year.

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