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Rory McIlroy's belief will carry him through Masters test at Augusta, says Padraig Harrington

By Robert Jones

Rory McIlroy goes to next week's Masters and his bid for a Career Grand Slam with an impenetrable ring of confidence, according to Padraig Harrington.

Professionals rate World No 1 McIlroy's golf game as a perfect fit for Augusta National, but Harrington believes one of the Holywood native's greatest strength at the Masters will be his Kevlar self-belief.

"Ultimately, Rory has had a couple of mini-slumps (in his career) and he has come out of them as strong if not stronger," said the Dubliner. "He's got to feel bullet-proof.

"Making those mistakes on Sunday at Augusta (in 2011) yet being able to come back and win the US Open 70 days later took enormous fortitude and also brought with it tremendous self-belief."

Harrington went on: "Being able to go and win in Australia coming off a really bad run in Europe and the States in 2013 also brings an awful lot of faith.

"Rory has the ability to play great golf and is blessed with the belief that if it doesn't go well for a spell, it'll come back. If he doesn't win at Augusta next week, it's not going to be that big a deal for him as he knows he's capable of going out and winning the next one. That takes the pressure off.

"He knows it's not be-all and end-all when it comes to defining him as a golfer. So he's in a good spot."

Harrington insists McIlroy will have little difficulty rising above the hullabaloo surrounding his bid, at age 25, to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in history as the only winners of a Career Grand Slam.

"Rory is well able to manage the hype, because he has had to," the veteran explained. "It's a bit like Tiger.

"He was brilliant at managing it because that was his life, and it has become Rory's life too.

"There will be a lot of hype but I think that's more relevant in the outside world.

"When you're in the middle of it, hype reaches saturation point, so Rory will be dealing with the same level as he always does.

"Every event is the same for him now, so he's getting a lot of practice and experience at it. It shouldn't be an issue."

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