Rory McIlroy is looking to draw on past experiences as he makes a fourth attempt to win the career grand slam at this week’s Masters Tournament.
While the Northern Irishman arrives at Augusta National for the tenth time looking for a fifth consecutive top ten in the year’s first Major Championship, it is the memories of his third appearance in 2011 that may prove the most valuable.
After opening up a four-shot lead heading into the final day, he fired a closing 80 to finish in a tie for 15th, although he bounced back in some style at his next Major, winning the US Open in record-breaking fashion.
He has since added an Open Championship and two US PGA Championships to his trophy cabinet, and believes he has never been better placed to become just the sixth player to win all of golf’s four biggest events.
“Coming into the 2015 Masters, that’s when I felt like there was a lot of hype coming off the two Majors the summer before and World Number One and going for the slam the first time,” he said.
“I felt that anticipation and that hype and I nearly built it up in my head a little bit too much.
“I play well here, I just haven’t played well enough. That one year back in 2011 where I had a great chance and I didn’t finish it off but I’ve played well since then.
“I love the golf course, I enjoy playing the golf course. Maybe I’ve got off to a couple of slow starts over the past few years and I played my last 45 holes in 2015 in 15 under par. So it was just that slow start that held me back there and if I get off to a bit of a better start, then maybe I’ll be right there in contention.
“I place a lot of importance on what happened here in 2011. I feel like it made me a better player, I feel like it made me a better person, it definitely was a character builder.
“It took me a while to get over it but I knew if I looked at the big picture it would serve me well in the long run and I don’t think I would have had the career I’ve had so far if it wasn’t for that day. So I think it was very important.
You have to go out and win the Masters and you have to go and earn it. And I’m here this week to earn it all – Rory McIlroy
“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. It’s not going to fall into your lap, you have to go out and win the Masters and you have to go and earn it. And I’m here this week to earn it all.”
McIlroy arrives not only with a wealth of experience both good and bad behind him but some excellent form, with two top threes on the Desert Swing this season and a win on the US PGA Tour just over two weeks ago.
“I feel like I’m coming in here in great form and excited to have another chance to try and win this great tournament,” he said. “So excited for the week.
“I feel like I couldn’t come in here with better form. It was great to get a win a couple of weeks ago and hopefully I can just carry that golf forward for the next few days.
“I always try to be as well prepared as I possibly can be for each and every golf tournament I play but this week I feel like everything’s coming together very nicely.”