Sports / Golf

Rory aims to write Masters glory story

By Agence France-Presse in Augusta, Georgia (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-10 07:14

McIlroy desperate to become first Irish champ at Augusta

Rory McIlroy cannot begin to contemplate a career where he will be ineligible to have breakfast in the Champions Locker Room at Augusta National.

McIlroy singled out the likes of Greg Norman and Ernie Els, who have both been denied such an opportunity and then witnessed younger players who grew up idolizing them succeed at Augusta.

There is defending champion Adam Scott, who as a youngster had pictures of Norman plastered on his bedroom walls.

Then there is Els, the best golfer to come out of South Africa since Gary Player, graciously having to congratulate Masters champion countrymen Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel.

That is why McIlroy is desperate to become the first Irish golfer to be fitted out with the fabled green jacket.

"It has to be tough because you can look at someone like Greg Norman seeing Adam win last year," said McIlroy.

"Then there is Ernie (Els) and he sees Trevor (Immelman) winning, he sees Charl (Schwartzel) win, and he sees all these young South Africans playing so well, like Louis (Oosthuizen) getting so close in a playoff against Bubba (Watson).

"Ernie should have won in 2004 when (Phil) Mickelson birdied two of the last three.

"It is why I am determined at 24 that I don't want to get to that point when I am 44. So that is why it would great to win the Masters sooner rather than later.

"It is why I just cannot contemplate a career without a green jacket, as the Masters just stands out from the other majors because we go back to the same venue every year.

"And I would be disappointed if I ended my career and wasn't able to go up and have breakfast in the Champions Locker Room."

While rain washed out much of the first official practice round on Monday, McIlroy will be smiling when he steps onto the 10th tee.

Not only did the recent ice storm bring down the famed Eisenhower Tree, but it also felled the large overhanging branch down the left side of the 10th fairway McIlroy hit during his gut-wrenching 2011 Masters meltdown.

McIlroy was made aware the storm had brought down the huge branch from 'Rory's Tree' when playing a practice round in the lead up to this year's tournament.

"Whenever the members play Augusta, a guy has a beverage cart parked on the 10th tee and he mentioned it to me when I was up there on Tuesday before heading to Houston," said McIlroy.

"He just said to me: 'Oh that branch, it's not there anymore'.And then I saw it was gone, broken off in the ice storm and Augusta had to take it away."

Nature has delivered McIlroy some justice to savor, and if he believes fate can help him win at Augusta, there is also the bizarre statistic that on the four occasions Tiger Woods has not contested a major, an Irish golfer has stepped up and won: Padraig Harrington at the 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA; McIlroy at the 2011 US Open and Darren Clarke at the 2011 British Open.

"That is a good omen," McIlroy said with a smile.

"I am not that superstitious, but maybe it gives you an extra bit of 'Oh, I might have an extra chance this week'."

McIlroy arrived at Augusta late on Sunday following a confidence-lifting final-round 65 to share seventh place at the Shell Houston Open.

It was his best-ever round in four appearances in Houston.

(China Daily 04/10/2014 page24)

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