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Rory McIlroy is in the mood to make history at The Masters

By Karl MacGinty

Rory McIlroy envisaged no problem sleeping last night, despite finding himself on the cusp of history.

Today at Augusta National, arguably the most iconic and exciting venue in golf, McIlroy conceded he'll have butterflies as he prepares to hit his opening tee shot at the Masters.

Yet the Ulsterman insisted it had nothing to do with the prospect of trying to complete only the sixth career Grand Slam in golf history. He always feels charged-up heading into the Masters.

"I think it's probably only the first tee shot of a tournament these days that I still get nervous at," Rory conceded. Yet he looked forward to the usual "six or seven good hours of sleep" in Augusta last night.

The eyes of the world may be on McIlroy when he's on the grounds of Augusta National but once he left last night, everything was geared towards "keeping the excitement at a suitable level and not to get too anxious".

“When I’m here at Augusta National, it’s all business but once I get back to the house we have rented, I just completely switch off.

“I’ve got family and friends over,” explained McIlroy, confirming that Grand Slam chat isbanned in the house he has rented out, not far from the course.

“Yeah, definitely. No golf chat whenever I get off the premises.”

Should McIlroy become the first Irishman to land the Green Jacket, he’ll join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods by winning all four Majors.

Nicklaus, who with six career victories in the Masters, has advised McIlroy that patience will be his greatest virtue.

“I talked with Rory last week and I said ‘you’ve got a big week coming up, just be patient,” Nicklaus revealed.

“You’ve got a lot of years ahead, just be patient with what you’re doing this year and you’ll be fine.

“If you look at Augusta National, you’ve got half a dozen shots that could send you out looking for an airline ticket home. But if you play those shots well and be aggressive as you want with the rest, you can do pretty well.

“You’re not going to get hurt in the centre of the greens at Augusta.

I always played for the centre of the green.”

Rory’s compatriot Darren Clarke says the Holywood genius has a chance to join a distinguished list of Grand Slam golfers “Rory can make history and there is a lot of pressure on him but if he plays as well as he can he will be hard to beat,” said Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain.

Graeme McDowell believes his compatriot can cope with being under scrutiny on “a course that is tailor-made for him”.

Meanwhile, the wounded Tiger himself is being lined up for an appearance at the 2016 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

In a quid pro quo arrangement, McIlroy, who is patron of the event through his charitable foundation, will appear in Tiger’s own Hero World Challenge.

The venue for 2016 has yet to be arranged but The K Club looks the favourite.


Belfast Telegraph


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