Rory: I'll Be Playing More Ahead Of The Masters

Even in the current turbulent world of professional golf some things never change. And, given that it's the first week of January, there's the usual chatter of Rory McIlroy and The Masters. Speaking on the Stick To Football podcast he discussed LIV, Tiger, Jon Rahm and Manchester United and there was also plenty of insight into Augusta.

The 34-year-old has played in 15 Masters, finished inside the top 10 in seven of them and has missed the cut three times, twice in the past three years. In between those blank weekends there was also that second place where he holed out from the sand at the 72nd hole for a 64.

He needs it for the career Grand Slam and he's tried various different methods of preparing for the year's opening Major. This year he'll be playing more at the start of the year.

McIlroy said: "I’m going to play quite a bit. I feel like the schedule on Tour is a bit stop-start going into The Masters. I went through stats review with my team and I’ve got this trend over the last few years where in May, June, July, and August - that’s my best stretch of golf. So, if we can just get that into April when The Masters starts, we’ll be good. Playing a bit more and being sharper will help so I’m going to try and play a few more tournaments in the build-up to Augusta.”

The Northern Irishman has had a bit of everything at Augusta and he generally has had to answer the same question since blowing that four-shot lead in 2011. What's less well remembered is how he waltzed to the US Open title just two months later.

“At Augusta I sometimes do things I wouldn’t normally do because of what it is and the pressure, and I’m completely open about that – I think I need to embrace it rather than shutting away from it. Every time you go back, you learn something different – I’ve had my chances at Augusta before, and every year I take that little bit and try and put it into the next year. After 14 or 15 years of it, you think it’s time to get this done.

“I was four ahead going into the last day in 2011, and I was one ahead going into the back nine. I was in the final group in 2018, with Patrick Reed. I finished second to Scottie [Scheffler] but I started a long way behind and had a good last day.

"That year [2011], Charl Schwartzel won – he birdied the first and second and eagled the third. I'm starting off and that four-shot lead has gone. You just have to be mentally good to snap out of that or refocus back into what you’re doing. If you’ve been to Augusta, you can hear the roars and hear everything happening, and you know that’s different than a lot of other golf courses.”

In terms of it not ever happening McIlroy admitted that there would be a few obvious regrets. On the upside his game remains at the very top of the game and he's still only 34, on the downside we've been saying the same things about his skillset and how it should match up with Augusta for the past 15 years.

“I would be comfortable with not (winning The Masters) but I would look back with a tinge of regret. I’d still look back at my career and be happy with what I’ve done because I never expected to get as far as I have. You get to go back to that Champions dinner every Tuesday night at Augusta if you win and there are little things like that I’d miss if I wasn’t to do it.”