McIlroy: Discipline the key to playing Augusta National

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy believes playing Augusta National is the biggest test of patience and a disciplined approach could yield the best results at the Masters next week.

Despite registering seven top-10s in his Masters career, the wait for the career grand slam will enter its tenth year when McIlroy tees it up next Thursday and he admits that Augusta’s test of discipline goes against how he normally plays golf.

McIlroy has two missed cuts at The Masters in his last three starts and last year he missed the cut at a whimper having been caught trying to chase Brooks Koepka down during the opening two rounds. But he now knows that slow and steady might win the race this time.

“Discipline, not being tempted to do too much, sticking to your game plan. Ben Crenshaw said a good thing to me a few years ago, he just said high lines, just keep it high, just high lines, read more into putts than you think,” McIlroy said.

“If someone said you go to Augusta and I want you to shoot even par for four days, you would think that’s pretty easy to do, and as you’re trying to shoot even par you’re probably going to back into a couple scores in the 60s and you’re actually going to do well.

“But if someone says I want you to go out and shoot 67 at Augusta, it’s very easy to shoot 75 or 76 because you start to chase pins, you start to miss it in the wrong spots, you start to not be patient and play the disciplined golf that you need to.

“Good golf at Augusta feels lake boring golf and I think that’s something that I’ve always struggled with because that’s not my game. To me it’s the biggest test of discipline and the biggest test of patience of the year for me.”

The biggest change made to the golf course this year has been lengthening the par-5 2nd hole meaning the large right hand side fairway bunker has been brought back into play for the longer hitters like Rory McIlroy.

Previously, the bigger hitters would take on the bunker with a driver or lay up short of it with 3-woods but the bunker is now back in the landing area and ready to gobble up any errant tee shots.

McIlroy gave his thoughts on the change: “I thought it was going to be a different visual than it used to be, but it’s — I thought whenever someone said they moved it back and to the left, I thought the tee box was going to point you out towards that right bunker and you’re going to have to hit more of a draw around the corner. I mean, if you didn’t know, you would think you were on the same tee box, it doesn’t look that much different.

“You can still see left of the bunker and I thought it was really going to force you to hit some sort of draw shot around the corner, but you can still, you can still hit a straight away shot and keep it left of the trap. It’s not as drastic of a change as I thought it was going to be.

“And yeah, there’s new greens on 2, 4 and 6. Slightly — there’s like a back middle hole location on 2, there’s a slightly bigger area in there where they can sort of move that around a little bit. On 4 they’ve sort of made the back right section a little bit bigger for an extra pin position there. And then 6 is different, like the top right plateau is definitely bigger and then they’ve flattened out a section in the back left to maybe have an extra hole location there, too. Those are the three changes.”


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