Tiger Woods, a five-time winner of the Masters, predicts that Rory McIlroy will triumph at Augusta “in due course.”
The Northern Irishman is making his ninth attempt to complete the career Grand Slam and his 15th attempt to win the only major that has eluded him thus far.
15-time major champion American Woods said: “Rory has all the necessary skills, game, and talent to succeed in this situation.
“He will complete it and achieve a career Grand Slam, whether it’s this year or the one after that.”
In 2019, Woods, who had previously won four Green Jackets, added: “To succeed on this golf course, a lot of things must go right. Rory has proven over the years that he has mastered this course’s playing techniques. All you need to know is how to play.
“There, he has been. He had a terrific run the previous year and elevated himself, but I believe it is only a matter of time.”
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McIlroy will use Woods’ cautious Augusta strategy.
McIlroy has stated that he will make an effort to avoid “outside noise” and that establishing a “bubble” around himself is essential to his Augusta preparation.
The world’s second-ranked golfer said in an interview with BBC Sport Northern Ireland that he doesn’t frequently read news items or watch the build-up to the year’s first major on television.
When questioned about how simple it is for him to shield himself from rumors regarding his potential to one day win at Augusta, McIlroy responded: “Well, I’ve simply had to do that over the past several years here. Really, it’s a little bit of a digital detox. I don’t use my phone as frequently.
“It’s actually a good way to get away from it because if I go home, I’m almost never watching anything to do with golf; instead, Poppy (his daughter) generally wants to watch a movie.
“I make an effort to isolate myself for the coming week. I’ve learned that it’s the only way to protect myself from the cacophony.”
Over the years, McIlroy has had a contentious relationship with Augusta. In 2011, he was four shots ahead heading into the final round before shooting an eight-over 80 and losing all hope of winning.
While he experienced another major near-miss at The Open, he enters Augusta with four wins since June and a third-place finish in his most recent start, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. Last year, his final-round 64 saw him finish second to Scottie Scheffler.
I’m enthusiastic and also fairly confident, he declared.
“I believe my game is starting to take shape. I had a decent start to the year, played poorly at The Players but well at the Match Play and learned a few things.
“I have a strong game. I don’t think I need to act differently in this situation. I have a decent chance if I continue to play the way I have over the last 18 months.”
Only five individuals—Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods—have achieved the career Grand Slam, and McIlroy acknowledges that Augusta is the only course where the thought of joining that select group makes him feel more anxious.
According to McIlroy, who won the last of his four majors in 2014, “I believe given the experiences I’ve had at this place, I probably feel more nervous on the first tee here than I do at any other tournament.”
“But I imagine that other players would have a similar opinion. The last major championship was contested eight or nine months ago, but there has been such an intense build-up to this one.
“This one has a much bigger build-up than the others, and I think that all of that leads to a little more nerves on the first tee,” the author said.