Rory McIlroy needs to win the Masters to complete the Career Grand Slam. While this is one of the many Masters storylines viewers will have had enough by the end of Masters week, it’s worth mentioning that Rory is really putting pressure on himself to get the job done this year.
Seeking to become just the sixth golfer to capture all four majors, McIlroy has taken a different tack with his preparation. He’s reportedly played almost 100 practice holes at Augusta National already and will play more before the start of play.
“It’s been a quiet build-up compared to previous years and I haven’t minded that – it’s been quite nice. I feel good, like my game is there. I feel ready to go. I feel like I’ve done everything I can do to prepare. It’s just a case of going out there and hitting the shots I need to.”
He elaborated on the practice round-heavy approach.
“The more you can make Augusta National feel like your home golf course, the better. I’ve played here a good bit in recent weeks. I’ve shot good scores and I feel like I know what I am doing here. It’s all there. I know it’s all there, it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it.”
In addition to a heavy dose of practice and on-course preparation, McIlroy has also switched up his equipment in his bid for a green jacket. McIlroy has TaylorMade M2 fairway woods in the bag this week, rather than the Callaway GBB Epic woods he’s been employing. He’s also (pretty dramatically) made a wholesale iron switch, opting for a new Callaway Apex MB Prototype model, different than the Apex Protos he’d been gaming.
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You’d have to imagine that not only is McIlroy keen to get the “Grand Slam monkey” off the back of his Nike Aeroreact Blade collar shirt, but he’s earning to atone for 2011. That year, if you’ll recall, McIlroy led the Masters heading to the back nine. But the Ulsterman then made a triple bogey on 10 and a four-putt double bogey on 12 en route to a closing 80.
Since 2011 at Augusta, McIlroy tied for 40th, tied for 25th, tied for eighth, finished fourth, and tied for 10th. In his three stroke-play starts on the PGA Tour this season, McIlroy hasn’t finished worse than a tie for seventh.
Taking all of this together, from a preparation, mindset, and recent form standpoint, Rory McIlroy is as poised to hoist the Masters trophy (yes, there is a trophy, in addition to the green jacket), and capture the lone major that has eluded him.