The McIlroy Masters plan: “Control of myself, my emotions and my thoughts”

Peter Finnan

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)

Peter Finnan

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Rory McIlroy says his game plan for Augusta National this week is to stay in control of himself and his emotions and not to get distracted by what other players are doing as he bids for a maiden Masters title and a tenth attempt at completing the Career Grand Slam.

McIlroy missed the cut last year and was guilty of attempting to chase Brooks Koepka who had reached ten-under before he began his second round. Teeing off ten shots off the pace, Rory lost his way and collapsed to a 77, with twelve-under ending as the winning score.

This year, the Holywood man insists he has learned his lesson and will try to control only what he can do.

“Myself (Laughs.) Control of myself, control of my emotions and my thought. If I can control those, it makes the physical control of everything a lot easier and a lot more simple. Yeah, just to me next week is all about discipline, about staying in control of yourself and in control of what you can control. If I can do that well, then the rest will follow.”

The four-time major champion has endured an underwhelming start to the PGA Tour, but a third place finish at the Valero Texas Open is his first top-10 of the campaign despite finishing a distant nine shots shy of Akshay Bhatia.

McIlroy has struggled with his approach play throughout the year but sought the watchful eye of Butch Harmon to try and solve the issue. It seems to have worked, he ranked 2nd in the field for strokes gained approach, picking up over seven shots on the field and he is feels like he is in a better place and on a timely upward curve heading to Augusta this week.

“I definitely feel like I’m in a better place than I was a few weeks ago. Through the Florida swing there was just a lot of volatility in my game, some good, some bad, quite a few big numbers, so just trying to tidy that up. For me, I’m always going to be able to hit good shots, it’s just how bad the bad ones are, and this week the bad ones were still in play and no too bad, and I was able to scramble well enough when I did hit a few poor ones. Again, overall much more pleased with where my game is compared to two or three weeks ago.”

McIlroy has made no secret that his approach for this week will be to stay disciplined and play boring golf rate than going out to chase a score.

The world number two carded a bogey free final round of 66, registering just three bogeys all week although there was one double bogey on hole one of round three thrown in for good measure. But after a month without a bogey free round, to bookend his tournament with two clean cards is heartening.

“Yeah, it was good. It was very solid. The conditions were a little easier out there than the previous couple of days, so was able to take advantage of it. Second bogey-free round of the week, which is really pleasing compared to what it’s been like the previous few starts.

“I’m in a better spot than I was a few weeks ago. Yeah, it was nice to see a round like this today.

“Yeah, good to get a round like that under the belt heading into next week.”



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