Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

The Punter: McDowell wises up to the challenge of Augusta

Our own Rory McIlroy has seen his form dip since joining the American tour.

His missed the cut in the Shell Houston Open and his best finish in four events has been 40th, which has seen his ranking drop to 11th in the world.

McIlroy made an impressive debut at Augusta 12 months ago, finishing joint-20th with Ian Poulter and Justin Rose.

While he will be keen to do better, he would likely not be too disappointed at a similar result this year. That said, he is firmly of the belief that last year’s experience will stand him in good stead.

“I'm going back to the Masters with a lot more experience, and hopefully I am bit smarter,” he said.

“Over the past year I have had to deal with so many new situations in tournaments and learned how to handle them. I think I am a better player for that.

“Going back to Augusta, I know a lot more about how to play the course and I am going to go back there a lot more wise.

“Sometimes people may respect the course too much because of the things they have seen happen over the years, instead of going out to play it as they see it,” he added. “If I'm going to miss a green I know where to miss it, and then if I walk away with just a par I know now to accept it. Par is always a good score at Augusta.”

Best of the Europeans could be Lee Westwood (25-1), who fired seven birdies in a second round of 68 at Houston before eventually finishing joint-eighth behind Anthony Kim.