Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

McIlroy targets first Green Jacket

Rory McIlroy has his sights set on a Green Jacket this month

The statistics on Rory McIlroy's season so far have become depressingly familiar.

A missed cut in Abu Dhabi in his first event with new equipment. A first-round defeat in the Accenture Match Play. A withdrawal from the Honda Classic and subsequent apology. A solitary top-10 finish and loss of status as world number one. But the Northern Irishman is fully focused on winning a first Green Jacket in next week's US Masters.

"It would mean everything," the 23-year-old said. "I'm halfway to the career Grand Slam and that's one of the pieces of the puzzle. The Open Championship is the other. That's a big goal for me - to try to win more major championships. I feel like I'm at a stage now where, sure I want to win other tournaments, but the majors are the focus."

McIlroy already has the US Open and US PGA Championship titles under his belt, winning both by eight shots and looking almost untouchable at the end of 2012, when he followed his triumph at Kiawah Island with back-to-back wins, a starring role in Europe's Ryder Cup 'Miracle at Medinah' and victory in the season-ending Dubai World Tour Championship.

However, recent poor form has seen McIlroy lose his world number one ranking to new Nike stablemate Tiger Woods, who will seek a fifth Masters title on the back of three wins this season. But Woods knows better than anyone about the highs and lows of life in the golfing spotlight, and McIlroy is prepared to accept both as long as the former outweigh the latter.

"I don't care if I miss 10 cuts in a row if I win a major a year," insisted McIlroy, agreeing with Padraig Harrington's claim that consistency is over-rated. "That's what it's all about - winning the big tournaments.

"Of course, it's not going to be great for your confidence going into those majors if you're missing 10 cuts in a row, but when people look back on a person's career, you don't say 'Jack Nicklaus was so consistent'.

"You could say he finished 19 times second in a major. But what you think about is the 18 majors he won. That's what people remember. People remember the wins.

"They don't remember that I shot 65 at Doral to finish eighth. They remember the wins and they remember the high points. It's only a minority that will remember the low points and will get on you for that.

"I remember last year, my five wins, my second major championship, the Ryder Cup, winning player of the year. I don't remember missing four or five cuts or whatever it was in the middle of the season. I mean, I remember, but that's not what I think about. I think about the high points."

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