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Brennan's Brief How Rory needs to Putt his best foot forward if he wants to claim his fourth Majors in Augusta


Rory McIlroy walks to the tee on the 14th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament

Rory McIlroy walks to the tee on the 14th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament

Rory McIlroy walks to the tee on the 14th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament

For the seventh successive year, Rory McIlroy begins the Masters tomorrow in pursuit of golfing immortality. Only five men have every won all four Majors in the sport, Rory has the chance to become the sixth. And at every Masters he plays until he quits the game, or wins the event, the question will be asked, Can Rory Do It?

So many of the game’s greatest players got stuck on winning three of the Masters, the US and British Opens and the USPGA. They just could not claim the fourth piece of the crown.

Sam Snead, Phil Mickelson, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Ray Floyd, even the great Arnold Palmer, the man who did more to popularise the game of golf than anyone else, could not win them all.

Mickelson will have one last shot at his missing piece, the US Open, when it comes to the Torrey Pines course outside San Diego in June. Mickelson is 51 now, an age at which there are always too many young whipper-snappers around, for a veteran to win a Major.

But ‘Lefty’ Mickelson grew up playing Torrey Pines and knows it like the back of his hand. 2021 is surely his last chance to do golf’s Grand Slam.

It’s not so urgent for Rory. He turns 32 next month, so there is a still a decade’s worth of tries to go at conquering Augusta. But the whipper-snapper problem is there for Rory too. He’s no longer ‘the kid’.

Rory is in the top dozen in the Masters betting this week, but so are six Americans, all of whom are both Major winners and younger than him.

Contrary to what some people say, the Irish star can play Augusta, a course that doesn’t demand long driving, but which places a premium on putting your shot to the green in the right place.

On most courses, just getting your ball to the green is enough. Not this week, not when you need to know that stopping your ball 40 feet left of the pin is the thing to do, because that is the only place on the green from which you can get the subsequent putt to stop anywhere near the hole – or even go in!

Rory played this course brilliantly for the first 63 holes in 2011, he played it brilliantly for the last 54 back in November. His problem has always been putting four good rounds together. Rory has a string of top ten Masters finishes to his name, just not the consistency needed over four days.

He comes in a little under the radar this week because his game has not been good of late, and the Holywood man has brought in the renowned coach Pete Cowen to iron out some kinks in his game that have surfaced since Rory decided he wanted to take on big-hitting Bryson de Chambeau for length off the tee.

If Rory could just cope with the idea that, as we noted, length off the tee box is not really needed at Augusta, maybe he could shock us all this week and win. Maybe he might shock himself too.

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Online Editors