US Masters Past failures will fuel Rory McIlroy's quest for green jacket at the Masters
The ghosts of Ernie Els and Greg Norman might lurk in the trees around Amen Corner but Rory McIlroy believes he has the grit to feed off his Masters failures and make his dream come true.
The Holywood star looked certain to win the Masters in 2011 when he took a four-stroke lead into the final round and ballooned to a nightmare 80.
He's yet to bury that hoodoo but even though three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson (50) believes the Co Down man will win multiple green jackets, McIlroy (31) is only certain he will not to give up on his dream.
Asked if he shared Mickelson's confidence, he said: "I'd like to think so. But, look, nothing's given in this game. I guess there's no better person to sit down and have a chat with than Phil because he broke through here when he was 34 for his first Major after knocking on the door for a long time. I'm not quite in that scenario, but I'm looking for my first here.
"So yeah, look, I've always felt like I had the game to do well around here and to play well. It's just a matter of getting out of my own way and letting it happen. But as I said, you have to go out and earn it. You can't just rely on people saying that you're going to win one. Greg Norman never did. Ernie Els never did.
"There are a lot of great people that have played this game that have never won a green jacket. It's not a foregone conclusion, and I know that. I have to go out and earn it and play good golf. I think nowadays, with how many great players there are, I need to play my best golf to have a chance."
McIlroy has rarely appeared as relaxed at the Masters and feels confident that he can eliminate the big numbers that have prevented him from contending in recent months.
But he also believes he has what makes people successful in many other walks of life - true grit.
While he has rarely played with total freedom as the Masters scar tissue has built up, his failures have only fuelled his desire.
"I think my grit's come from my failures, and I don't have to look any further than this place in 2011," he said. "I learnt a lot from that day. I learnt a lot in terms of what I needed to be and what I didn't need to be.
"You know, I needed to be myself. I didn't need to try to be like anyone else. But I think failure - I try to say this to young guys that are coming through - you can't be afraid of it. You have to embrace the fact that you are going to fail at things, but you should learn from them and then when you go again, you should be better.
"I've had a nice little bit of success in this game, but I have failed a hell of a lot more than I have succeeded in this game. And I have succeeded because I went through those tough patches, and you need to. You need to go through those tough patches to learn. So I feel like that's where I've got my persistence or grit from."
Mickelson certainly believes that McIlroy will not only complete the career Grand Slam but also win more than one green jacket.
"There is not much advice I can give him," Mickelson said. "That guy is as complete a player as they come - smart, knowledgable and he works hard. So he will win and complete the Grand Slam. He is too great a player not to. And there is nothing I can say to help him.
"He's had a lot of great opportunities, and he is going to continue to do so. I played with him today, he is playing beautifully, and I would be shocked if he wasn't in contention with a great chance on Sunday.
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