Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Golf

Rory McIlroy eyeing green jacket after reeling in Jordan Spieth

Published 08/04/2016

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, holds up his ball after saving par on the first hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 8, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks with Bill Haas of the United States on the second hole during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays a shot during Round 2 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. AFP/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy, pictured, was trying to reel in Jordan Spieth (AP)
Rory McIlroy, pictured, was trying to reel in Jordan Spieth

Rory McIlroy believes Augusta National "owes" him a green jacket to complete the career grand slam after setting up a mouthwatering battle with defending champion Jordan Spieth.

McIlroy could have made the Masters his first major title when he took a four-shot lead into the final round in 2011, only to collapse to a closing 80 to finish 10 shots behind the winner Charl Schwartzel.

The 26-year-old bounced back to win the US Open two months later and the US PGA title in 2012, meaning victory in the Open at Hoylake in 2014 left him needing to win a green jacket to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four majors.

"I sort of feel that Augusta owes me something and I have come with that attitude," McIlroy told RTE after a second round of 71 in swirling winds left him just a shot behind Spieth, who struggled to a 74.

" I have come here to get something that I should have had a long time ago.

"You need to be so focused and in control of your emotions here. It's about not getting fazed and mentally I have been good the last couple of days. I need to keep that going for the next two days."

McIlroy's chances looked slim when he followed two early birdies with a double bogey on the fourth and bogeys on the fifth and 11th.

At that stage he was eight shots behind Spieth after the world number two birdied the first and third and threatened to turn the tournament into a procession for the second year running in his quest to join Jack Nicklaus, N ick Faldo and Tiger Woods in making a successful title defence.

However, Spieth who set records for the highest number of birdies (28) and lowest 36 and 54-hole totals in Masters history last year, then four-putted the fifth to run up a double bogey, bringing back unhappy memories of doing the same on the eighth hole in the final round of the Open at St Andrews last year.

A birdie on the eighth looked to have steadied the ship, but Spieth then bogeyed the ninth and 10th and was visibly - and audibly - annoyed at being timed for slow play as he wanted to wait for the wind to die down on his approach to the 11th.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, left, helps 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, of England, put on his green jacket following the final round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, left, helps 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett, of England, put on his green jacket following the final round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, holds up his ball after saving par on the first hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament Friday, April 8, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Masters champion Danny Willett, of England, is congratulated by Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club following the final round of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Master champion Danny Willett, of England, waves after winning the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Masters champion Danny Willett, of England, gives a thumbs up while being driven in a golf cart following his win of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Jordan Spieth of the United States presents Danny Willett of England with the green jacket after Willett won the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England celebrates winning during the green jacket ceremony after the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England celebrates winning during the green jacket ceremony after the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts after finishing on the 18th green during Round 4 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Jordan Spieth of the United States presents Danny Willett of England with the green jacket after Willett won the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Jordan Spieth of the United States reacts after presenting Danny Willett of England with the green jacket after Willett won the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England celebrates winning during the green jacket ceremony with Jordan Spieth of the United States after the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
US golfer Jordan Spieth reacts on the 17th hole during Round 4 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England celebrates with the green jacket after winning the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Jordan Spieth of the United States shakes hands with Danny Willett of England after presenting him with the green jacket for winning the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England celebrates with the green jacket after winning the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
England's Danny Willett reacts wearing his Green Jacket at the end of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Jordan Spieth reacts on the 18th green during Round 4 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
The Masters logo is pictured during the presentation ceremony at the end of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England celebrates with the green jacket after winning the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Danny Willett celebrates with the green jacket after winning the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta
US golfer Jordan Spieth presents the Green Jacket to England's Danny Willett at the end of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
England's Danny Willett (R) speaks to US golfer Jordan Spieth during the presentation ceremony at the end of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. England's Danny Willett won the 80th Masters at Augusta National on Sunday for his first major title. He was trailing defending champion Jordan Spieth by five strokes around the turn, but stormed down the back nine to overhaul the American. Willett is the first Englishman since Nick Faldo 20 years ago to win the Masters and only the second all-time. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks with Bill Haas of the United States on the second hole during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the second round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays a shot during Round 2 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. AFP/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
A scorekeeper peers through a hole from behind a board during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Danny Lee of New Zealand and caddie Mike Hartford stand on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Ireland's Shane Lowry lines up a shot during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Graeme McDowell, of Northern Ireland, hits out of a bunker on the 10th hole during the first round of the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Ernie Els of South Africa reacts on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Branden Grace of South Africa plays a shot during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Amateur Bryson DeChambeau of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: A detail of the Nike shoes Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland on the third hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Amateur Cheng Jin of China and Rickie Fowler of the United States walk during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Shane Lowry of Ireland putts on the ninth green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Martin Kaymer of Germany reacts after putting for par on the ninth green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Amateur Paul Chaplet of Costa Rica plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Amateur Romain Langasque of France reacts after putting for par on the ninth green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Byeong-Hun An of Korea walks on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tees off during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Matthew Fitzpatrick of England stands with his caddie Tom Ridley on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: David Lingmerth of Sweden plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Paul Casey of England and caddie John McLaren walk during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Davis Love III of the United States reacts during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen plays a shot during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Ian Poulter of England pulls a club from his bag as caddie Terry Mundy looks on, on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: A detail of the Nike shoes Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland on the first hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, chips to the second green during the first round of the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy collects his ball on the 2nd green during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts after putting on the 2nd green during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Rickie Fowler hits out of a bunker during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson of the United States putt during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Amateur Sammy Schmitz plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
US golfer Rickie Fowler waits to play a shot during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Thomas of the United States applies sunscreen on the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
US golfer Tom Watson hits out of a bunker during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain prepares to play from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain prepares to play from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Billy Horschel of the United States plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Emiliano Grillo of Argentina putts on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Kevin Kisner of the United States plays his second shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
US golfer Brandt Snedeker putts on the 2nd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: A detail of the shoes of Keegan Bradley of the United States on the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Australia's Adam Scott hits out of a bunker during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Kevin Kisner lines up his putt during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Singer Niall Horan attends the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
US golfer Bryson DeChambeau tees off during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Wales's Jamie Donaldson hits out of a bunker on the 2nd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Singer Niall Horan attends the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
US golfer Bryson DeChambeau watches his tee shot during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa reacts on the eighth green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Jamie Donaldson of Wales lines up a putt for birdie on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
England's Justin Rose plays a shot on the 2nd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Patrick Reed of the United States lines up a putt on the eighth green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Rose of England reacts after putting for bogie on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Zach Johnson of the United States reacts on the eighth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Jordan Spieth of the United States stands on the eight green in the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
US golfer Harris English plays a shot during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Jordan Spieth of the United States applies sunscreen on the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Jason Day of Australia reacts on the eighth green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Rose of England plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Rose of England talks to caddie Mark Fulcher on the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Justin Rose of England plays his shot from the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Chris Kirk of the United States tosses his ball to caddie David Robinson after putting for birdie on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan walks onto the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Jordan Spieth of the United States applies sunscreen on the second tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
US golfer Jordan Spieth lines up a putt on the 3rd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Jordan Spieth lines up a putt on the 3rd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Dustin Johnson hits out of a bunker on the 2nd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Patrick Reed putts on the 3rd green during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Dustin Johnson of the United States plays a shot from a bunker on the second hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Jordan Spieth of the United States is reflected in the glasses of caddie Michael Greller on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Dustin Johnson of the United States prepares to play from a bunker on the second hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
US golfer Patrick Reed hits out of a bunker on the 2nd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Jordan Spieth lines up a putt on the 2nd hole during Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Kevin Streelman of the United States plays his third shot from a bunker on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Lee Westwood of England and his caddie Billy Foster react after putting for par on the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Amateur Cheng Jin of China plays a shot to the second green during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Zach Johnson of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Honorary starters US golfer Arnold Palmer (L), South Africas Gary Player (C) and Jack Nicklaus of the US arrive to begin Round 1 of the 80th Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player shake hands during the ceremonial tee off to start the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 07: Honorary starter Arnold Palmer attends the ceremonial tee off to start the first round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Gary Player walks during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Lee Westwood of England chips during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
US golfer Billy Horschel and his daugher Skylar putt on the 9th green during the Par 3 contest prior to the start of the 80th Masters of Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Billy Horschel carries his daugher Skylar on the 9th green during the Par 3 contest prior to the start of the 80th Masters of Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US golfer Brandt Snedeker's son Austin follows his father to the 9th green during the Par 3 contest prior to the start of the 80th Masters of Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - US golfer Jordan Spieth blows the ball on the 9th hole during the Par 3 contest prior to the start of the 80th Masters of Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016, in Augusta, Georgia. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WatsonJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Gary Player plays a shot during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Shane Lowry of Ireland, Chris Wood of England and Jamie Donaldson of Wales during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Justin Rose of England signs autographs during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Gary Player looks on during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice greets Jack Nicklaus during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Shane Lowry of Ireland and fiancee Wendy Honner react during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 06: Jack Nicklaus walks during the Par 3 Contest prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

Up ahead, McIlroy took full advantage with birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th and the fist pump when he saved par from the trees on the 18th told its own story.

Spieth birdied the 15th but then bogeyed the 16th and 17th and did well to save par from a bunker on 18, but the 74 was still his worst score in 10 rounds at Augusta by two shots.

McIlroy has outscored Spieth eight times out of the 12 they have played together, but admits he needs to ignore who he is playing with and the significance of what he is trying to achieve.

"It doesn't make a difference to me who it is up there," he added. " I want to win this golf tournament and I want to finish on the lowest score possible, and whoever that is ahead of me at that point, I just want to finish one better than that.

"I'm really trying to block that (the grand slam) out. It's another golf tournament I'm trying to win. I'm trying to beat guys on this leaderboard that I've beaten before, so I need to take confidence from that and know that I've been in this position before. Maybe not on this golf course, but I've been in this position before in big tournaments and been able to get the job done.

"Look, I know it's a very big weekend for me. I know that. But when I'm out there on the golf course, I just have to be completely 100 per cent focused on the task at hand, and if I can do that and stay in the moment and be completely focused over every golf shot I hit from now until Sunday night, then hopefully everything will work out the way I want it to."

US Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau was on course for a place in the final group on Saturday when he matched playing partner Spieth's birdie on the 15th, but bogeyed the next and ran up a triple-bogey seven after two wild drives on the 18th.

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph