There’s a lot on the line this week at Augusta National. But perhaps none of it is as potentially historical as what’s on the line for Rory McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman hasn’t won a major since the USPGA in 2014. Victory here, however, would give him the Grand Slam at the tender age of 28.
Playing in his tenth Masters, the in-form McIlroy says that when you break it down, the Masters is a very different week to any other on tour – and that’s something he happens to like.
“It’s hard to treat every week the same because every week isn’t the same, and obviously we don’t sit in media centres like this every week. You know, it’s different. But I think you have to embrace that. You have to embrace and relish the opportunity that is put in front of you and go out and grab it.”
Only five players have ever won golf’s grand slam: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods. McIlroy knows where his name would be sitting if he does the job on Sunday afternoon.
“I’m an avid fan of the history of the game, and I know a win here and what that would mean and where that would put me in history alongside some of the greatest that have ever played this game, and that would be mean an awful lot to me.
“But have I to try and clear my head of that come Thursday morning and go out and play good golf, hit good golf shots, have good course management, hole putts. If you do that enough times, hopefully that score on Sunday evening is the lowest out of all 87 or 88 competitors that are here and you walk away with something that you'll have for the rest of your life.”
Hogan won his first Masters at his tenth attempt, as did Sam Snead, whilst Arnold Palmer won his first green jacket at the age of 28, the same age as McIlroy. But he says such comparisons aren’t worth much in the bigger picture.
“There’s a lot of different comparisons you could make. But it’s all really meaningless unless you go out there and actually do it.
“I feel like I’ve been here long enough and I’ve played enough rounds around here to know how to play this golf course well and well enough to win. I never come in here thinking ‘I’ve served my time and this is my turn’, because it’s never your turn. You have to go out and get it.”
Rory tees off at 1.38pm on Thursday alongside Adam Scott and Jon Rahm.