McIlroy: I should have attacked at Augusta

Rory McIlroy is confident he would know what to do if he finds himself four ahead with a round to go at the US Open next month.

That was the situation the 22-year-old found himself in at The Masters six weeks ago and sports fans all around the world saw him suffer the nightmare of an 80.

“I went out just trying to keep the lead instead of being, ’Right, I’m going to go out, shoot 65, beat everyone by eight and just show everybody how good I am’,” McIlroy said.

“That’s really what you should be going out and looking at.”

Just like Tiger Woods used to in the good old days.

Now in Spain for the Volvo World Match Play Championship – he began today with a group game against Retief Goosen – the Northern Irishman has not been short of words of comfort since his Augusta meltdown.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson – the world number six is a fan of the Premier League champions – sent a long text advising him to talk to the people closest to him rather than listening or reading the opinions of outsiders.

“Similar to Beckham when he was being hounded by the British media after getting sent off at the World Cup,” said McIlroy. “Fergie told him to come back to Manchester and to the people who loved him.”

McIlroy knows he was not the first to collapse in the way he did, and he is not even the last any more.

On Sunday his Ryder Cup partner and close friend Graeme McDowell was three clear with one hole to go in the third round of the Players Championship and still tied for the lead with 13 holes to play.

But he ended up with a 79 which, like McIlroy’s 80, was the worst round of anybody playing that day.

“I sent him a text saying, ’It happens to the best of us’,” said McIlroy with a smile.

“It can happen to anyone. He’s a major champion, but it’s tough to finish off tournaments no matter who are you – Tiger made it look so easy for 15 years or whatever.”

All of Woods’s 14 major victories have come with him at least tied for the lead after 54 holes and he had a perfect record from a leading position through three rounds until YE Yang beat him at the 2009 US PGA.

The Match Play carries a first prize of €795,000 which is second only to The Open in Europe this year and it has attracted five of the world’s top six.

Lee Westwood is under threat as world number one again from Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer.

Westwood, winner of his last two tournaments in Indonesia and Korea, opened against Dane Anders Hansen, while Donald’s first game was against American Ryan Moore and Kaymer’s against Yang.

Donald is seeking a notable – and lucrative – double after lifting the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson in February.

The format is different this week, though. The 24 players are in eight round-robin groups of three, with the top two in each tomorrow night going through to the knock-out stages.

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