McIlroy’s going for the green

Roy McIlroy is desperate to join the Masters legends for breakfast in the Champions’ Locker Room.

McIlroy singled out greats like Greg Norman and Ernie Els who have been denied the privilege and forced to look on as the young guns arrived in force to steal their thunder.

“It’s why I’m determined at 24 that I don’t want to get to that point when I’m 44. So that’s why it would great to win one Masters sooner rather than later.

“It’s 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’d be disappointed if I ended my career and wasn’t able to go up and have breakfast in the Champions’ Locker Room.

“It has to be tough because you can look at someone like Greg Norman seeing Adam Scott win last year,” said McIlroy. “Then there’s Ernie 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] going so close in a play-off against Bubba [Watson].

“Ernie should have won in 2004 when [Phil] Mickelson birdied two of the last three.”

McIlroy revealed he has a couple of jackets in his wardrobe, including the one for capturing the 2012 PGA Championship.

“The PGA is a green jacket as well but then when I won the Sherry Cup one year at Sotogrande I received a sort of mustard-coloured one, it’s terrible,” he smiled.

And while rain washed out much of the first official practice round yesterday, McIlroy’s now smiling when he steps on to 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 that McIlroy collected 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 event.

“Whenever the members play Augusta there is a guy has a beverage cart parked on the 10th tee and he mentioned it to me when I was up there Tuesday before heading to Houston,” said McIlroy. “He just said to me, ‘Oh, that branch, it’s not there anymore’.

“And then when I looked it was gone, broken off in the ice storm and Augusta had to take it away.”

So while the ice storm finally granted the late US President Eisenhower his lifelong request, nature has delivered McIlroy some justice for him to savour.

And if McIlroy believes God’s hand can help him win at Augusta then there’s the bizarre statistic that on the four occasions Tiger Woods has not contested a Major an Irish golfer has succeeded — Pádraig Harrington at the 2008 British Open and 2008 PGA, McIlroy at the 2011 US Open and Darren Clarke at the 2011 British Open.

“That’s good omen,” he said smiling. “I’m not that superstitious but maybe it gives you an extra bit of, ‘Oh, I might have a bit of an extra chance this week’.

“It is funny how that it has happened like that.”

And while thunder and heavy rain dampened the enthusiasm of players and patrons, not McIlroy.

“I get excited coming back here every year and the thing that’s nice about Augusta is that they always treat you so well,” he said.

“There’s a certain feeling that you have getting back here. For the first couple of years I went, I was scared to take a divot but the more I come back the more comfortable you become.

“It brings out the boy in me, I guess.”

More in this section

Ireland's Top 10 Hidden Gems

Ten of the best golf courses in Ireland that too few people know about.

Read Here
Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox