RORY MCILROY SAYS he cannot imagine finishing his career without a Masters title.
Leading into his sixth attempt at winning the illustrious green jacket at Augusta, the Northern Irishman said he is taken by the magic of the course.”I honestly can’t,” McIlroy said.
“I adore Augusta and the Masters. Every time I play my practice rounds, I finish on the 18th green and I’m like ‘is that it – can’t I play some more?’ And the more you go back, the more comfortable you become.
“So I’d be disappointed if, at the end of my playing days, I wasn’t able to go up and have breakfast in the Champions’ Locker Room.”
The 24-year-old has a best finish of tied for 15th at Augusta in 2011, with two other top-25 finishes among his five visits so far.
That tied for 15th, though, was McIlroy’s best chance at winning so far, after he was halted by a triple-bogey on the par-four 10th.
His hole was infamously inconvenienced by his ball hitting an overhanging branch, and McIlroy was thrilled to learn that branch had been felled in a recent storm.
“That branch I hit that year has gone,” McIlroy said. ”It fell down during the ice storm. I found that out last week when I went for my early practice rounds.
“There’s a guy on a beverage cart on the 10th tee and he told me, ‘Oh that branch,’ he said, ‘it’s not there anymore’.
“‘Oh, thanks,’ I replied. But if I was in that position again I don’t think it would matter. I’d know what to do this time.”
McIlroy was not using that, or anything else, as an excuse for his lack of a top-10 finish in his career at Augusta.
“The way I play golf, the way my game is, Augusta does set up well for me,” he said. ”So not to have a top-10 after five Masters isn’t good. In the last couple of years I have been in a great position going into the weekend and thrown in a bad nine holes here or there.
“I’ve been thinking to myself ‘two-under through three, get off to a good start’. But sometimes when you’re pushing too hard, it goes the other way.
“I think I shot 40 or 41 on that front nine with Sergio (Garcia) on the Saturday a few years ago. It’s one of those courses that if you are a little off, it magnifies.”