After the big build up it didn’t quite materialise for Rory McIlroy on day one at The Masters. McIlroy of course is going for the career grand slam and every year we talk about the chances and the hype builds from there. And every year he convinces us that this year could be his year.
Well I’m not saying this won’t be his year, in fact I sincerely hope it is, but he’s got a mountain to climb from T37 position at level par if he is to challenge the leaders some seven shots ahead of him.
That job now starts early tomorrow with the starting times pushed up by 30 minutes on Friday to 7:30am local time (McIlroy tees off at 3:12pm Irish time), to try and fight the incoming poor weather so he’ll have a short turnaround and less time to think about what faces him.
“I’ve got a quick turnaround overnight and looking forward to getting back on the course pretty quickly and obviously trying to get myself back in the thick of things.
“I think when you’re chasing, it’s probably the harder the better because it plays easier for everyone. The more difficult the course is, I think that’s probably favourable conditions for chasing a little bit or trying to catch up.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Hopefully we don’t get affected by it (weather) too much, and we can get out there and play 18 holes uninterrupted. I can shoot something in the mid-60s and get myself back in it.”
And something in the mid-60s would be ideal with weather forecasts giving 70% rain coverage in the afternoon in the Augusta area with scattered thunderstorms between 2-5pm and wind gusts up to 25mph.
But then weather is something they’re well used to at The Masters, as is keeping with the times and today was another first as it marked the first ‘walk and talk’ during the tournament with McIlroy donning the earpiece on the 9th.
“Yeah, so the club reached out to us last week and just inquired if I would be interested in doing it. I did it a couple weeks ago at the Match Play. It definitely feels a little less intrusive with the ear piece rather than someone right up next to you with the microphone like they’ve been doing it in Europe for a couple of years.
“I thought it would be a cool thing to do. I did it in Austin and didn’t feel like it took me out of my rhythm in any way or made me think about things too much. So it’s nice to provide the audience at home a little bit more insight into what’s going on out here.
“So I think Augusta have a great balance of blending that history and that tradition but also making sure we’re keeping up with the times, I guess.”
And when pressed on whether he’d have changed his mind if he hadn’t just birdied the 8th the reply (laughing) was, “No, it’s fine. I’m temperamental. I’m not that temperamental.”
Even still, for those of us less self-disciplined we would think that it takes a player out of ‘the zone’ but not so for McIlroy who seemed completely at ease with it and has watched other players doing it on Tour.
“I thought Max’s was great at Torrey. I thought Keith Mitchell’s was good at Pebble. I think they’re the only two that I’ve watched, but I really enjoyed them.
“I thought Max provided some great insight into the hole he was playing, and I thought Keith did a really good job as well.
And as for who he’d most want to see on the walk and talk? Well there was only ever going to be one answer!
“Tiger. There’s only one answer there.”
And what does he think are the chances of that ever happening? “Zero” (laughter).
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