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With no worse a finish in 2019 than a tie for sixth and having just won the Players Championship, Rory McIlroy can be excused for feeling confident as he bids once again to complete the career grand slam at the Masters.
The 29-year-old needs only to win at Augusta National in just under four weeks’ time to become just the sixth golfer to win all four men’s major championships.
He has tried and failed to complete the set four times previously but, given his exceptional start to 2019, he has good reason to feel optimistic that this might just be his year.
“If I go to Augusta with a similar golf game to what I have now and the attitude I’ve shown over the first few weeks of the year, I think I’ll have a great chance,” said McIlroy in the aftermath of his one-shot win at TPC Sawgrass.
“I feel like I’ve managed the first six weeks or six tournaments of the year very well, even with some noise around me, whether it is “he can’t close”, “he can’t play on Sundays”, blah, blah, blah. I’ve just got to do my thing, and if I go and I concentrate on me, control what I can do, good golf and good attitude takes care of the rest.”
On paper, McIlroy has a formidable record around Augusta National, having finished in the top ten there in each of the last five years. However, the numbers belie some serious heartbreaks, not least his inability to close the deal having got into the final group in the final round last year.
Even so, he believes a new-found maturity will stand him in even better stead this time around.
“I think it’s been having a focus over the last six or seven months on my attitude, especially my attitude to golf, and not letting golf define who I am as a person,” he added. “I’m trying to keep the two things very separate because one thing that I used to do in the past is I’d let what I shot that day influence who I was or my mood.
“To try and keep those two things very separate is something I’ve worked hard on because who I am as a person isn’t who I am as a golfer, and it took me a while to get to the point where I realised who those two people were.”
In control of his emotions as well as his game, and with the results to back it up, don’t be surprised to see Rory McIlroy join golf’s elite pantheon of immortals in just a few weeks’ time.
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