McIlroy Licking His Lips at Prospect of Masters in November
Rory McIlroy says that he is looking forward to The Masters being played in November. He knows conditions will be very different and believes it being staged later in the year will work to his advantage.
The Northern Irishman has played in the tournament on 11 occasions and it is the only one he needs to win to complete the career grand slam. He famously blew a four-shot lead when he folded during the final round in 2011, but he recovered two months later to win the US Open.
Since winning the 2014 Open at Hoylake, McIlroy has returned to Augusta in search of that elusive green jacket in a tournament that is played on a golf course that is made for him. .
None of the previous five players to complete the slam have needed more than three attempts to land the final leg, and McIlroy is well aware of that. He also doesn’t need anybody to remind him that it is 2014 since he secured the most recent of his four major titles.
Now 30, he would have been favourite to win The Masters last week after a terrific start to the season saw him climb to the top of the rankings for the first time in four-and-a-half years.
McIlroy said: “Normally there’s huge anticipation going to Augusta, the first big event of the year. There’s all this hype. But I don’t think it’ll feel like that this year. I think it’ll feel a little bit different, which I’m looking forward to.
“It’s going to be a different Masters, and personally, selfishly, maybe that’s what I need to get the jacket.”
The Masters is scheduled to be played from November 12-15 in what will be a thrilling climax to a season that has been ripped apart by the coronavirus. The Tour Championship, US Open and Ryder Cup are all slated to be played in September.
Historically, McIlroy tends to perform better in the second half of the year, with nine of his 18 PGA Tour victories coming in August or later. And he has won three times in November, including the WGC-HSBC Champions last year.
Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus believes the change of schedule could play into McIlroy’s hands. He said: “He seems to play better in the fall. He’s won the Tour Championship a couple of times in Atlanta, very similar conditions. I think this scheduling will be to Rory’s favour.”
McIlroy, speaking on Nike Golf’s Instagram Live feed, said: “November is going to be different. It’s going to be cold. The course plays long already but it could play very long this time. The greens might not be as fast as they are in April, depending on the moisture.
“It’s the back end of the year as two of the Majors will have already been played hopefully, the Ryder Cup will already have been played. People might be in their routines and in their flow a little bit.”
The PGA Tour is considering restarting the season “with or without fans”, and has vowed to give players at least three weeks to prepare themselves for the first tournament. The next scheduled event is the Charles Schwab Challenge from May 21-24 in Texas.
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