Rory McIlroy’s ‘Road to the Masters’ begins this week some 3,400 kms away at Thursday’s starting CJ Cup in Las Vegas.
McIlroy is among just 78 players teeing-up in the fourth hosting of the event but re-located this year from South Korea to the Shadow Creek course in the ‘Gambling Capital of the World’.
It’s just a month now to the start of the rescheduled Masters with McIlroy to drive down Magnolia Lane for a 12th year in his career but in also what will be ‘Take Six’ in his quest to join the exclusive ‘Grand Slam Club’ since winning a third different Major in 2014.
“It’s my first time playing the CJ Cup and this year we didn’t have to travel as far as Korea to get there but I’ve watched the tournament in Jeju the last few years and it looked good, so looking forward to this week,” he said.
“It’s also such a cool place being here in Las Vegas. It’s a great golf course and I wouldn’t mind if I got to play a Tour event every year here.
“So, after three weeks off I am excited to get back at it again, and hoping I can get out there and play good golf.”
Questions around the upcoming Masters dominated McIlroy’s pre-event presser.
“Seeing the course and how they have it set-up here and also the shape of the greens, is very much like what we’ll find at Augusta, so this week is not going to be bad preparation for the Masters,” said McIlroy.
“When you think about the courses we play leading up to Augusta, they’re all Bermuda grass and we’re always in Florida, so it’s just a different test and a different set-up.
“Here this week and at Sherwood Hills next week in L.A they’re going to be a lot of guys’ last events before Augusta, and they are going to be two really good weeks to see where your game is at and then go home and work on some stuff before Augusta.
“It’s going to be different given we are in mid-October and I don’t know what I would have done without these two weeks on the schedule, but then I would have found somewhere to play for sure.
“A lot of guys, and me included, are just happy to have these two weeks to play and see where their games are before heading to Augusta.”
McIlroy is returning to competition since his final round 75 to eventually share eighth place in last month’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
McIlroy will play the opening two rounds in the company of Spaniard Sergio Garcia and South Korean Si Woo Kim.
Joining McIlroy this week will be fellow Open Champion, Shane Lowry who has been grouped with the American duo of Kevin Na and Ryan Palmer.
The $US9.75m event boasts a first prize cheque of $1.7m
IRISH TEE TIMES – (Irish time)
6.40pm – Rory McIlroy
7.46pm – Shane Lowry