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Rory McIlroy's desire to emulate the all-time greats hasn't faded

By Deric Henderson

Published 12/04/2016

Testing times: Rory McIlroy again failed to tame Augusta and clinch the elusive Masters title to complete his Grand Slam
Testing times: Rory McIlroy again failed to tame Augusta and clinch the elusive Masters title to complete his Grand Slam

Rory McIlroy knows the feeling only too well. He fell apart at the Masters five years ago after going into the final round with a four-shot lead.

So he can empathise with a devastated Jordan Spieth and his cataclysmic fall which cost him his second green jacket. Men have looked more comfortable in electric chairs than the defending champion did when he slipped that famous piece of attire over the shoulders of the new winner, Danny Willett.

Spieth will reflect long and hard and it's far too early to assess the psychological damage that this will have inflicted - if, indeed, there is any.

McIlroy didn't look back in anger and despair, and quickly got over his collapse by going on to win the US Open later that year in 2011. That's the measure of the man.

The Masters, however, remains the one Major that has eluded him. At 26 there is plenty of time on his side to achieve the Grand Slam, but one wonders if the high public expectation and demands on him to deliver at Augusta National - nowhere else - are beginning to have an impact.

He will win there at some stage in the future. Of that there should be no doubt. He is so gifted and so focused with such a special and rare talent. His game remains in great shape and even though he doesn't believe so, there are a few lingering doubts about his putting technique.

He is always unfailingly courteous dealing with the media, especially the American journalists who can pose the most inane questions.

It must drive him to distraction at times but there he sits, responding eloquently, modestly and being as open as he can and is it really fair that this young sportsman should find himself under such pressure which at times must verge on intolerable?

McIlroy mostly deals with the interrogation process quite well, but interestingly he allowed his guard to drop slightly before departing the clubhouse on Sunday night - just hours before it was announced that next year's Irish Open, to which his charitable foundation is so heavily linked, will not be played at Lough Erne, a venue where he was so closely associated after turning professional in 2007.

The good folk of Fermanagh will be bitterly disappointed, especially one of the county's best known citizens, the First Minister Arlene Foster, but the decision to move elsewhere, most likely Portstewart, was always on the cards.

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***

McIlroy and the European Tour will be acutely aware of her considerable annoyance after some tense and difficult exchanges in the last few months. But he had other things to occupy his thought process.

He admitted: "This is the one that I haven't won, and this is the one I want to win more than anything else. I won a Claret Jug (The Open). I won a Wanamaker (US PGA). I won the US Open, but this is the one I haven't got.

"Once I overcome that mental hurdle that I'm struggling with at the minute, then I know how to play this course. I've played this course well before and I can string good rounds together here. But it's just a matter of doing it."

That was a rare insight into his current state of mind. But what is there to worry about?

Every golfer goes through the same personal crisis of self-doubt when the confidence levels dip. Just ask Spieth.

He perhaps began playing too conservative, frightened of making too many mistakes instead of the free and easy style - not fast and loose - of which we are all so accustomed.

There will of course be the inevitable questions that our man has maybe taken his eye off the ball and is too pre-occupied with what's happening off the course.

Apart from all his company endorsements, his career earnings in the US are somewhere in the region of $48.5m. He lives in a fabulous 15,000 sq ft home in Florida worth almost $10m which he shares with his girlfriend, Erica Stoll.

He has won 26 professional tournaments, including 12 in Europe and 11 in the States, and even though his $230,000 winnings for finishing in tied 10th place last weekend is effectively pin money, McIlroy's desire, hunger and commitment to become one of the all-time greats remains as intense as it always was.

He is determined to reach the same heights at Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player - not just having a good record, but an exceptional one.

And incidentally, Rory is just as happy knocking around with his set of close friends back home in North Down as he is relaxing when off duty at Palm Beach.

He hasn't won a tournament this year, but it's only a matter of time. Despite all the disappointment of his latest failed attempt, believe me his head is still in a good place, and he will return to Augusta next year all the better for it.

McIlroy is just that type of person. There is no need to panic.

Belfast Telegraph

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