With a mountain of Masters pressure again on Rory McIlroy’s shoulders, he insists he’s going to feel right at home, at least for the opening two rounds, beginning today at Augusta National.
McIlroy will play the first two days of a first autumn Masters in the company of World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay. ‘DJ’ and Cantlay are two of McIlroy’s good friends and also fellow members at the ultra-exclusive Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida.
“It’s a good draw for me as I see DJ (Johnson) and Patrick nearly every day when I’m home as we are all members of the Bear’s club and we all practice at the same place, so it’s a pretty comfortable draw for all of us,” said McIlroy.
“DJ and I actually teamed-up on Tuesday to defeat Phil (Mickelson) and Dan (Danny Willett) for a little match on the back nine.”
The trio will tee-up at noon local time (5pm Irish) off the first tee on Thursday and at 7.55am (12.55pm Irish) from the 10th tee. It will be the first time the Masters committee has arranged a two-tee start over the opening two rounds whereas, and as McIlroy points out, there was a two-tee final round start last year and that was due to impending storms.
“I actually teed-off the 10th first on the Sunday of last year, so it’s not new to me starting from the 10th,” he said. “It’s not bad going off 10 because you can get off to a decent start you then have a nice run of holes through the middle to the end of the back nine and then into the front nine, so you can get on a little run there. So, I don’t see any real difference going off the 10th on Friday, so if we can get through 10 and 11 unharmed, the course opens up from there.”
Also off hole 10 at 12.55pm (Irish time) will be Open Champion Shane Lowry in the company of defending champion Tiger Woods and Andy Ogletree while amateur James Sugrue tees off from the 10th alongside Jose Maria Olazabal and Andrew Putnam at 17.11 (Irish time)
Listen to our Masters preview Podcast featuring James Sugrue, Paul McGinley, Graeme McDowell by clicking the cover below or click HERE