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A Rory McIlroy win at Augusta in April would complete the Grand Slam.

Ten years on since the last of his four major championship wins, the 34-year-old is almost set for another crack at the one that keeps getting away.

But it would come with an ‘asterisk’.

That is according to LIV Golf star Talor Gooch, who has been subject to withering criticism in the last 24 hours.

Gooch, who won the Individual Championship on the Saudi-backed circuit last year, admitted he was ‘not surprised’ to be snubbed for the opening major of the year.

He then went one step further.

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“If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his [Career] Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world, there’s just going to be an asterisk,” he told Australian Golf Digest.

“I think everybody wins whenever the majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there.”

That comment, in particular, has been widely ridiculed, including by six-time PGA Tour winner Rocco Mediate, who sounded off on the “embarrassing” remark.

And, ahead of the Cognizant Classic at PGA National, McIlroy has responded.

Despite explaining that The Masters will invite “whoever they think warrants an invite”, he did show some sign of reprieve to his critic.

“To be fair to Talor, if you read the entire — the question and then the answer, it’s not as if he just came out with that,” he added.

“I feel like whoever did the interview led him down that path to say that, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt there a little bit. He just agreed with what the interviewer asked.”

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But McIlroy was quick to fire back at Gooch, insisting others have shown more desire to play their way into the iconic major championship.

“At the same time, Joaquin Niemann got an invite and I played with him a few weeks ago in Dubai, and he went down to Australia and won.

“He was in Oman last week. He has been chasing his tail around the world to get this, play his way into Augusta or show enough form to warrant an invite.

“I don’t know if the same can be said for Talor.”

The Masters handed one of three special invitations to Niemann last week. The other invites were offered to Ryo Hisatsune and Thorbjorn Olesen.

The 88th edition of the tournament will take place from April 11-14.

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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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