Monday, 27 February 2012

Time for McIlroy to put the past to bed

Rory McIlroy agonisingly missed out on the World Golf Championships Match Play title and the chance to become world number one on Sunday, but as the build-up to the 2012 US Masters begins, the Northern Irishman looks in fine fettle to make up for his collapse in the final round of last year's tournament.  

The 22-year-old has two events scheduled - the Honda Classic (1st - 4th March) and the Cadillac World Golf Championship (8th - 11th March) - before returning to Augusta National (5th - 8th April) where he threw away a four-shot lead in 2011. Since that harrowing experience, McIlroy has fulfilled his life-long ambition of becoming a major winner and also propelled himself to second in the world rankings.

Rory McIlroy is amongst the favourites to win the 2012 US Masters
Now widely regarded as the best golfer on the planet in all but name, McIlroy will view 2012 as a year in which he aims to further justify his immense stature within the game. Despite not securing a title in three attempts to date, he has shown great intent and an unerring level of consistency. The 2&1 loss to Hunter Mahan in the WGC final in Arizona comes after a second-placed finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and a tied-fifth placed finish at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

If he can manage to maintain his momentum throughout March, it could provide the perfect platform in his quest to claim the much-coveted Masters Green Jacket.

"I can't wait. That's what I'm building up to. I've got two events before the Masters and it would be nice to get a couple of good results before that," said McIlroy on the back of his final defeat yesterday.

"I'm happy with how I'm playing and hopefully it's only a matter of time before I win."

The man from Holywood, County Down, has admitted that he was reduced to tears at Augusta last year after dropping six shots in three holes on the back nine, on his way to an eight-over-par 80.

His record-breaking success at the subsequent major championship - the US Open - was largely put down to the lessons he had learnt just ten weeks earlier.

An eight-shot victory saw McIlroy become the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 and the youngest major winner since Tiger Woods triumphed at the Masters in 1997.

If he can hold his nerve this time round at Augusta, and play to the best of his ability, there is a strong possibility that the tears of sadness shed last year will be replaced with tears of joy.

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