• Is skipping par-3 contest to 'get away from the spotlight'
• Says he's a 'good enough player' to win a Green Jacket
THE MASTERS | Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is being made to wait just that little bit longer before his bid for the Grand Slam gets underway.
He’s the last player out on the first tee on Thursday, with a scheduled tee time of 2.01pm (7.01pm UK time). He doesn’t like sleeping in but thinks the Monopoly and jigsaw at his rented house will help pass the time. “There’s a lot of really fun stuff going on,” he says sarcastically.
But this year's bid for a Green Jacket is no joke. So much so the Northern Irishman has adopted a more relaxed approach to his quest, starting with his preparation. He decided not to come for a pre-tournament look at the course and he’s not playing the par-3. The last time he did that was in 2011, when he had a four-shot lead going into the last round. It was the biggest last round margin for a leader since a 21-year-old Tiger Woods led by nine after 54 holes in 1997.
That week was five years ago and, regardless of the outcome, it is still big in McIlroy’s mind, just not for the reasons you might think. Turns out he’s superstitious.
“I guess it’s more of a superstition thing than anything else,” said the 26-year-old. “In 2011, I didn’t play the par-3 and that was my best chance to win the Masters. It’s more like I’ve had great times at the par-3 tournament and had fun. It’s a great day. It’s a great day for the patrons to go down there and have fun and for the kids to get autographs. And I’ve played it the last few years. This year, I just wanted to change it up a little bit and maybe just get away from the spotlight a little bit.”
'I feel like I’ve got everything I need to become a Masters champion'
Asked whether he thought he would one day win the Masters and, in doing so, add the name 'Rory McIlroy' to the elite group of five who have won the career Grand Slam, McIlroy took a deep breath, paused, and said with confidence: “Yeah, definitely. I feel like I’m a good enough player. I feel like I’ve got everything I need to become a Masters champion. But I think each and every year that passes that I don’t, it will become increasingly more difficult. So there’s no time like the present to get it done.”
The four-time major winner also knows the historical significance of what a win this week would mean. “To be only one of six people to do it, I feel like I’ve set myself apart from definitely the guys that are playing here this week. Obviously Phil has a chance to do that when he goes to the US Open, as well. It’s something that I’d obviously be very proud of and something that I feel would set me apart.
Rory McIlroy - 'Lots of golf to be played'
“But there’s a lot of golf to be played before that and a lot of talking to be done and a lot of bad bounces and good bounces and lip‑outs and everything. So we’ll see what happens over the next few days.”