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It’s the final chink in Rory McIlroy’s armour.

Getting over the line at Augusta National has alluded the Northern Irishman since blowing a four-shot lead in the final round of the 2011 tournament.

McIlroy last tasted major championship success at the 2014 Open, and in a bid to complete the career grand slam, has recorded six top-ten finishes in Georgia.

But questions continue to be asked of whether the 34-year-old, who filled the runners-up spot behind Scottie Scheffler in 2022, is running out of time.

There is one man with McIlroy’s back, though. Three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo believes he has at least another ten years to slip into a green jacket.

Asked if McIlroy was running out of time, Faldo insisted: “I disagree.

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“The game has changed. We have brought the physical element in, and we understand the physical side.

“It was always 30-35 when you were in your prime and he is still in his prime. They are so fit and trained now so he has got at least another ten years I would say of being supersonically fit.

“I still think the problem is times gone by. We are nearly 10 years now since his last major. That is the problem.

“Unfortunately, it’s just going on, time after time. It’s not just this season. There’s four or five or six years of scar tissue now, of Rory coming in as favourite, playing great.”

“He has tried his best at times. ‘Can I re-set, can I literally forget the past, who I am? Look how talented I am and go and play golf again’.

“It is not that easy. Can you turn back the clock? Can you delete all the negativity that you have seen and felt?”

A final round of 64 meant McIlroy narrowly missed out two years ago, adding further scar tissue to previous disappointments.

He vowed to have a busy schedule before this week’s tournament, which included playing at the Valero Texas Open one week prior to The Masters.

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It was a new approach from McIlroy, who opted for a break between the PLAYERS Championship and The Masters last year, culminating in a weekend at home.

Meanwhile, Faldo hopes McIlroy veers clear of another ‘walk and talk’ interview at The Masters, a candid but distracting chat, according to the Englishman.

“I didn’t like it,” Faldo said. “I thought, ‘You’re kidding me! The Masters?’. Sure, do that any other week but why the Masters?

“I mean, that is one of the most beautiful things about the Masters. It’s you and your caddie, just the two of you and the other players. That’s all that’s inside the ropes.

“And to suddenly bring other people in? Because that’s got to be organised, hasn’t it? And this sort of thing, your manager is going to say to you before, ‘Will you do this?’. Gosh, no, you need 100 per cent concentration.

“I think he’s trying to put priorities into golf. You have a window as an athlete, don’t you? You’ve got tons of time once you’ve stopped playing your sport to go and do all your other stuff.

“But while you’re an athlete, give it 100 per cent. That was my attitude. You know, once you get your mind into other things, business and all sorts, then it’s hurting your golf. It really does.”

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John Turnbull A graduate of the University of Stirling, John joined the bunkered team in 2023 as a Content Producer, with a responsibility for covering all breaking news, tour news, grassroots content and much more besides. A keen golfer, he plays the majority of his golf at Falkirk Golf Club. Top of his 'bucket list' is a round of Pebble Beach... ideally in the company of Gareth Bale.

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