AUGUSTA, GA — Two days before the 2023 Masters Tournament kicks off on Tuesday, Rory McIlroy claimed he was “more relaxed than ever” when he arrived at the Augusta National Golf Club.
In fact, he called his second-place finish at last year’s Masters a “breakthrough.” The study with a sports psychologist made him feel “freer and more confident”.
Asking the popular and friendly McIlroy to explore his psychology as he prepares for the Masters is an annual spring ritual in the golf community. This practice can be traced back to his 2011. The then-21-year-old McIlroy entered the final round of the Masters four strokes behind him, hitting 80 to finish tied for 15th.
To make matters worse, the footage of the meltdown was eye-catching. There was a figure of McIlroy wearing a mop deep in the forest full of thorns. Being so far from the 10th fairway, broadcast cameras could barely spot him in the maze of pine trees. McIlroy looked dazed when his head appeared near the white cabin that was supposed to be removed from the playground.
His master’s grades, at least statistically, improved in the years that followed. But did they help his overall cause? Yes, he fought again, but seven top 10 finishes since 2014 only underline what hasn’t happened.
It was McIlroy’s victory at the US Open, the British Open and two other major championships at the PGA Championship that framed his quest for a championship in one of the sport’s most watched events.
Only five people have ever completed a golf Grand Slam: Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Or, as McIlroy likes to say with a smile, “I remember it on the eve of every Masters.”
He was asked about it on Tuesday: How does it feel to be in that group?
“I feel pretty good,” he replied. He added an analysis of his struggles at the Masters.
“I always felt like I had the physical ability to win this tournament,” he said. “But you have to be in the right head space to let those physical abilities shine.”
Around noon on Friday’s second round, McIlroy was standing next to his golf ball in the middle of the 11th fairway. He was perfectly positioned to attack the downhill green about 170 yards away.As McIlroy swung, his right hand almost made contact with the club and his shoulder immediately dropped.His left foot just slightly bent.
His face had the familiar look of an exasperated golfer.
The ball flew toward the pond on the left of the green and landed in the pond. McIlroy bowed his head. The crowd near the green gasped.
He recovered with two birdies on the par-5 13th and 15th holes, which he played relatively easily on Friday, and bogeyed on the 16th. I hit it. His day ended with a familiar insult at the Augusta National Ground. McIlroy has disappeared again, trying to find a way to get the ball out of the woods. A final bogey and five overs led him to his 77th round of par. He hit an even-par 72 in the first round on Thursday.
Bad weather halted play late Friday afternoon, but McIlroy will undoubtedly miss the mid-cut of the tournament once the second round ends on Saturday. It will be his third time McIlroy has been left out of his final two rounds of the Masters, and his second in the past three years.
After Friday’s rounds, McIlroy stepped into an annex building next to the Augusta National clubhouse, where players entered their scores. He was expected to speak to reporters waiting for him outside after conducting his two televised interviews inside the facility. He instead declined all interviews, according to a club spokesman.
Consistently one of the most accessible elite golfers in the game, it certainly makes sense, even if McIlroy had nothing else to say.
In the past, talking too much didn’t help. On the eve of a disastrous fourth round in 2011, McIlroy said in his room in an interview with a packed Augusta National.
In Tuesday’s interview, he couldn’t be more bombastic about how prepared and confident he is about competing at the 2023 Masters. he was philosophical.
“You have to go through it all, don’t you think?” said McIlroy, the world’s second-best golfer. “Not every experience is a good one. .
“Last year, I felt like I might have shed some of that scar tissue, and I felt like I had some kind of breakthrough.”
On Friday afternoon, McIlroy received a polite round of applause as he left the 18th green. He nodded to the crowd and forced the thinnest smile.
But another comment of his on Tuesday probably best describes his thoughts at this point.
“I’ve been knocking on the door for my fifth major,” he said.