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Groans and grimaces as Rory McIlroy surrenders to might of Augusta Masters

McIlroy's grand slam hopes will have to wait after Danny Willett stuns field to lift Masters

By Nevin Farrell

Rory McIlroy suffered more Masters misery as his ambition to become only the sixth person to win the grand slam in golf ended in Augusta agony last night.

There was no fairy tale ending for the 26-year-old world number three from County Down as his despondent body language spoke volumes about his thwarted ambition in stark contrast to Danny Willett who became the first Englishman since Nick Faldo to don the coveted Green Jacket.

After a good start to the tournament, McIlroy's scoring deteriorated as he struggled with his putter.

That frustrated fans from Northern Ireland and beyond who had tuned in hoping to see their sporting hero make history.

It was looking good early on in the tournament after Rory rallied to within one shot of the lead on Friday but the rot set in on Saturday sadness as he fell away badly with a birdie-free 77.

In fact, Saturday's showing was the first time in 80 rounds of major competition that Rory failed to shoot a birdie.

McIlroy went in to Sunday's showdown hoping to claw his way back into contention but it as not to be on the sun-dappled tree-lined Augusta course.

Indeed, at one stage he had to hunt in those trees for the ball.

His frustration over the weekend was captured when a shot unluckily rolled off the green and into the water.

A baffled Rory cried out: "Are you kidding me".

Thankfully, Rory salvaged his pride when a birdie did arrive yesterday.

McIlroy had finished fourth at the 2015 Masters Tournament, his best career finish at the opening major of the season but his frustration this year echoed his Masters meltdown in 2011.

Five years ago, McIlroy shot a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 in the first round of the Masters to take the lead after the first day of the four-day competition.

At the time, he was the youngest player to lead the Masters at the end of the first day.

The following day, he hit 69 to lead by two over Jason Day with a 10-under-par score.

On the Saturday, he fired a 70 to finish at 12-under-par, four strokes ahead of four other challengers.

However, on the fourth and final day, the now infamous collapse unfolded as he shot the worst round in history by any professional golfer who was leading after the third round of the tournament.

McIlroy scored one-over-par 37 on the first nine, and still was in front but ended with a round of 80, ending up at 4-under for the tournament.

So Rory will have to wait another year to see if he can get his hands on the legendary Green Jacket awarded to the winner of The Masters.

If he does, he will join one of the most exclusive clubs in golf, adding his name to the likes of Tiger Woods and some hallowed heroes of yesteryear, namely Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen, all of whom have won the golf grand slam comprising the four leading golf tournaments - The Masters, US Open, The Open and the PGA.

Nevertheless, McIlroy's failure to grab the headlines in Georgia will have fans asking what he has to do to overcome his Masters hoodoo.

Belfast Telegraph


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