Rory McIlroy knows precisely what he’d be doing if he stayed at home this week: thinking about the Masters and the potential.
As a result, he altered his schedule.
McIlroy, who dislikes pool play at the Match Play, skipped the season’s only World Golf Championships event in favor of a week of practice in South Florida. And, desiring to play in a stroke-play tournament before the Masters, he signed up for the Valero Texas Open this week for the first time since 2013, when he finished second and went into the year’s first major with a boost of confidence. (His title chances were dashed when he shot a third-round 79 at Augusta that year.) He’s looking for a similar surge this time as he aims to complete the career Grand Slam for the third time.
He told reporters Wednesday at TPC San Antonio, “One of the great things about playing the week prior is you stay occupied.” “When you’re at home and you’re bored, it’s easy to start thinking about things, overthinking things, or anything.” So it’s a good idea to keep your attention on something else.”
“Not really, no,” he responded when asked if he’d be tense at home knowing what was at stake for his legacy. I make every effort to live in the moment and avoid thinking too far ahead. “I’d be quite fine.”
Even so, McIlroy was thinking about Augusta this week. He arrived in town on Monday and played two practice rounds at the Masters’ home course. In contrast to previous visits, he traveled alone and did not stay on the property.
He explained, “I just wanted to come view the golf course.”
The course had undergone various changes, most notably the lengthening of Nos. 11 (15 yards) and 15 (20 yards), as well as the addition of new greens on Nos. 3, 13, and 17.
The par-4 11th, which begins Amen Corner and is historically one of the most challenging holes on the course, has been made even more difficult, according to McIlroy. Despite the fact that the fairway has grown wider, allowing even right misses to reach the green, he indicated he needed to shoot 4- and 6-irons into the green. Chipping is also more difficult in the bail-out region to the right of the putting surface.
“Overall,” he said, “I believe it will play tougher than in prior years, and it was already one of the most difficult holes on the course.”
McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters last year, only the second time in his career that he hasn’t made it to the weekend. He had previously finished in the top ten in six of his previous seven occasions.