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Masters 2017: Rory McIlroy believes he's getting close to taming Augusta

 

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is the only player to have finished in the top 10 in each of the last four Masters, but another statistic may well give the World No.2 cause for concern.

McIlroy needs a victory at Augusta National to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four Major titles.

However, next year will be his fourth attempt at completing the career Grand Slam and none of the five players to have done it needed more than three tries at winning the final leg.

McIlroy admitted he had simply not played well enough to seriously challenge for a green jacket, despite battling back from being three over par after eight holes to card an opening 72.

Subsequent scores of 73 and 71 meant a closing 69 left the four-time Major winner six shots outside the play-off won by Sergio Garcia.

"I feel like I've finished five or six back the last few years so give me a six-shot start and I'm your man," the Ulsterman joked.

"I feel encouraged if nothing else. I feel comfortable on the golf course, like every time I tee up I've got a chance to win.

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"Top tens isn't what I'm looking for, but at the same time the ups and downs I've had here in the past don't quite seem to be so up and quite so down. It seems a little more steady and that can only bode well for the future."

McIlroy has finished in the top seven of all four stroke play events of a 2017 campaign limited by a rib injury, but will make some major changes on and off the course before returning to action at the Players Championship.

The 27-year-old plans to change his golf ball and experiment with more new equipment, while he is also due to marry fiancée Erica Stoll shortly.

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He’s done it: Sergio Garcia at moment of Augusta victory

He’s done it: Sergio Garcia at moment of Augusta victory

AP

Rory McIlroy suffered a frustrating third round in the Masters (AP)

Rory McIlroy suffered a frustrating third round in the Masters (AP)

Tough one: Danny Willet took a quad bogey on the first hole. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

Tough one: Danny Willet took a quad bogey on the first hole. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

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Europe's Andy Sullivan made a poor start to his third round in the Masters

Europe's Andy Sullivan made a poor start to his third round in the Masters

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up a putt on the second hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland lines up a putt on the second hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Danny Willett of England reacts on the first hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Danny Willett of England reacts on the first hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Danny Willett of England talks with caddie Jonathan Smart  before making a triple bogey on the first hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Danny Willett of England talks with caddie Jonathan Smart before making a triple bogey on the first hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Rickie Fowler of the United States reacts on the 13th green during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Rickie Fowler of the United States reacts on the 13th green during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Jason Day of Australia plays a shot out of a bunker on the 13th hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Jason Day of Australia plays a shot out of a bunker on the 13th hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Martin Kaymer of Germany reacts on the 18th green during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Martin Kaymer of Germany reacts on the 18th green during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Jordan Spieth of the United States plays his second shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07: Jordan Spieth of the United States plays his second shot on the 17th hole during the second round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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 Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a greenside bunker on the second hole during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a greenside bunker on the second hole during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AP

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Charley Hoffman of the United States recats to his birdie on the 15th green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06: Charley Hoffman of the United States recats to his birdie on the 15th green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Russell Knox of Scotland plays a shot on the second hole during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06: Russell Knox of Scotland plays a shot on the second hole during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Lee Westwood, of England, hits from a bunker on the 12th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Lee Westwood, of England, hits from a bunker on the 12th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AP

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Fred Couples of the United States looks on from the 18th green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06: Fred Couples of the United States looks on from the 18th green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Charley Hoffman hits a shot on the 17th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Charley Hoffman hits a shot on the 17th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AP

Shane Lowry of Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Shane Lowry of Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AP

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, reacts to a missed putt on the 14th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, reacts to a missed putt on the 14th hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

AP

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the first green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the first green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Jon Rahm of Spain stand on the first green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Jon Rahm of Spain stand on the first green during the first round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland skips his ball across the pond on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland skips his ball across the pond on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy reacts to his birdie putt attempt on the sixth green during a practice round at the Masters golf tournament, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Rory McIlroy reacts to his birdie putt attempt on the sixth green during a practice round at the Masters golf tournament, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Augusta, Ga. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

AP

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04:  Bernhard Langer of Germany crosses the Nelson bridge with caddie Terry Holt during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04: Bernhard Langer of Germany crosses the Nelson bridge with caddie Terry Holt during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04:  Rod Pampling of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04: Rod Pampling of the United States plays a shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04:  Daniel Summerhays of the United States and his caddie Nickolas Jones walk during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 04: Daniel Summerhays of the United States and his caddie Nickolas Jones walk during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 4, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Francesco Molinari of Italy and his caddie walk over the Hogan Bridge during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Francesco Molinari of Italy and his caddie walk over the Hogan Bridge during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03:  Jason Day of Australia,Yuta Ikeda of Japan and Sandy Lyle of  Scotland on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Jason Day of Australia,Yuta Ikeda of Japan and Sandy Lyle of Scotland on the 16th hole during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03:  Danny Willett of England looks on during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Danny Willett of England looks on during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03:  Lee Warne, caddie for Alex Noren (not pictured), is seen during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Lee Warne, caddie for Alex Noren (not pictured), is seen during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03:  Thomas Pieters of Belgium pulls his putter from his bag during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Thomas Pieters of Belgium pulls his putter from his bag during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03:  Bernhard Langer of Germany putts as his caddie looks on during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 03: Bernhard Langer of Germany putts as his caddie looks on during a practice round prior to the start of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 3, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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He’s done it: Sergio Garcia at moment of Augusta victory

"I need to change my golf ball. That's a big thing," McIlroy added. "I thought my golf ball this week was doing weird things in the wind. It was very inconsistent so there's one thing I will change and try to work on the next few weeks.

"I feel I'm swinging it as good as I have been for a long time, I've done a lot of good work with Michael (Bannon, his coach) over the last couple of weeks, my putting feels as good as it has done in a long time.

"(US Open venue) Erin Hills is an unknown for everyone but Birkdale is one of the best Open courses on the roster and we are going to Quail Hollow for the PGA and I've had success there in the past, so nothing but positives ahead I feel and my game feels in good shape.

"It's just a matter of working hard and putting myself in position to win. I've turned my focus to getting ready for the US Open in June and trying to add to my Major tally there."

Asked about getting married, McIlroy added: "I am excited. It's a great time in my life and it would have been nice to walk down the aisle in the green jacket!

"It's a great time in our lives and it's all about that over the next couple of weeks and I'll come back at the Players refreshed and a married man and start a new chapter in my life."


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