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Rory McIlroy: Masters date switch could be tailor-made for my maiden Augusta win


Rory McIlroy and caddie Harry Diamond shake hands on the 18th green at Augusta.

Rory McIlroy and caddie Harry Diamond shake hands on the 18th green at Augusta.

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy and caddie Harry Diamond shake hands on the 18th green at Augusta.

If there's one monkey Rory McIlroy would love to shake off his back, it's one that jumped on at Augusta in April 2011.

The 21-year-old appeared to be coasting to a first major success, holding a four shot lead over Angel Cabrera and Jason Day going into Sunday's final round at Augusta.

It would become one of the most infamous rounds in golfing memory as a nervous McIlroy endured a nightmare final round 80, finishing 10 shots behind winner Charl Schwartzel.

When mere mortals could have been forgiven for being irreparably damaged, McIlroy was galvanised, winning the US Open little over two months later.

The USPGA Championship would follow in 2012 and the Open Championship ticked off in 2014.

The one major that has still remained elusive; that pesky Masters.

There have been five top 10s but and even another appearance in the final pairing in 2018 but he has yet to earn a spot in the fabled champions locker room.

This year, for the first time ever, the tournament is set to be played outside spring - the rescheduled dates set for November 12-15.

Could this be the change of scenery to yield a different result?

"It's going to be a different Masters this year but personally, maybe selfishly, that's what I need to get the jacket," he told Michelle Wie on an instagram live for Nike Golf.

"November is going to be different, very cold, the course could play very long. It plays long already but it can play very long. The greens may not be as fast as in April depending on the moisture.

"I think it will be a different feel, it's at the back end of the year. Two of the majors have already been played, hopefully the Ryder Cup's already been played. People will be in their routine and in the flow a little bit more.

"I always feel there's this bit of anticipation going into Augusta, the first big event of the year. There's all this hype.

"I don't think it will feel like that this year, it will feel different but it's something I'm looking forward to."

The famous azaleas will not be in bloom, the famous green surroundings may feature orange and brown tinges, but it will provide a much-needed ray of sun into the sporting world.

"The Masters means so much," admits McIlroy. "Obviously it's the last major for me to win but putting that aside, it is such a special place, so many great memories already.

"Any time you get to play at Augusta is a lot of fun."

As the current schedule stands, it will be the final major of the year, after the USPGA Championship in August and the US Open in a packed September, just a week before the Ryder Cup.

Graeme McDowell has already suggested there will be more captain's picks than normal when it comes to forming the European and US teams for the biennial matches.

Those selections will be all-important, especially, as McIlroy points out, given the players will face the 'most intense atmosphere' in the sport.

"You're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for your team-mates, you're playing for your country, you're playing for a lot of different people," McIlory said.

"Pressure at the Ryder Cup is different. I think if you look at people who have performed well in Ryder Cups before they went on to win majors, I think it's a good precursor.

"I think for us, that the Ryder Cup is the biggest and most intense atmosphere you can play under. If you can handle that, you can handle being in contention at the majors."

Belfast Telegraph