As college basketball begins to wind down and the trees show their green once again, The Masters is looming. In 2 weeks time, one of the greatest events in sports will be upon us. Coming from someone who has attended the extremely exclusive event, I am not shy to say that my experience at Augusta National was the best day of my life. Just gazing out across the grounds, seeing green upon green upon green, I felt like I was at the eighth wonder of the world. But in reality, why focus on my experience when we could focus on Rory McIlroy’s? Rory is the clear cut best player in the world, but will he be able to complete his career grand slam and add a green jacket to his already illustrious career? Here’s my take on Rory’s pursuit of history.
This coming Masters will be Rory’s seventh trip to Augusta, and it will be arguably his most important yet. In his previous six attempts, Rory has managed to make five cuts, all of which turned into Top 40 finishes. Of those five, three have been top twenty, and one has been a top 10 finish (T8 in 2014). Rory’s most famous trip to the Masters was in 2011, when he led by three strokes with nine holes to go, but shot a back nine 43 to finish T15. Of course at that time, Rory was yet to win a major. Now, with 4 majors under his belt, Rory seems in line to contend at this years tournament.
Way to Play the Course
In no sense is Augusta National an extremely difficult golf course. Coming from my dad, a 12 handicap who has played the course twice, he says there are probably 20 courses he has played that are harder than Augusta. However, The Masters is a unique event that promotes both a draw and fade ball flight. On most courses, it is easy to stick to a draw or fade, but Augusta makes you utilize both for success. This is why a player such as Bubba Watson, who moves the ball both ways better than anyone on tour, has won 2 of the last 3 green jackets. Rory usually uses a left to right ball flight, but he is the number one player in the world for a reason, so he can move the ball both ways. Rory should have no problem with managing the golf course, and his premier putting and distance will do wonders on the slick greens and Par 5’s.
Last summer was known as the summer of Rory, as the world saw him win three starlight tournaments, including two majors, and he seemed to contend every week for a three month span. Rory then took a considerable amount of time off to deal with a lawsuit, but returned for three PGA Tour events leading up to The Masters. McIlory shockingly missed the cut at The Honda Classic, but followed it up with two solid showings at the WGC Cadillac Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational (T9 and T11, respectively). Although not as great as last summer, his game appears to be coming into form. To add onto this, he also played a practice round at Augusta with Tom Brady recently, and I would expect he plans to play at least three more before the tournament tees off on April 9. With different aspects of Rory’s game continuously improving week by week, he seems to be in good shape for this years tournament.
In my opinion, Rory will 100% contend this year, but I do not think it is his time just yet. Rory will win a Masters in the next five years, but I think that he will have to wait out this one. I think the winner will come from a group of five players: Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods (shocker), Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, and Hideki Matsuyama. I could be wrong, as Rory seems to have another gear that no one else seems to possess (see 2014 British Open), but his pursuit of history will pause for just a little longer.