'Sometimes the fear of losing can cripple you' - Rory McIlroy on facing his Masters demons

Brian Keogh

RORY McIlroy insists he must confront his crippling fear of losing at the Masters if he's to complete his quest and finally claim the career Grand Slam.

The Co Down man led going into the final round in 2011 but shot 80, then failed to put pressure on Patrick Reed when trailing by three heading out in the final group in 2018.

"I guess if I find myself in the position again, whether it's this year or years down the line, I think being okay with not winning is not a bad thing," he told RTE's Greg Allen.

"I think sometimes the fear of losing can cripple you and make you tentative and not play the golf you want to play, so actually confronting that fear and thinking I'm going to play my game and if I play that game, I'll have a great chance to win, and then if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.

"I've had 13 years in a row of not happening, so I feel like I don't have much to lose at this point."

Winning the Masters would put McIlroy among golf's immortals and he believes he needs to be more conservative and not try to take on shots that could lead to the costly big numbers that have hurt him in the past.

Having had six top-ten finishes in the last ten Masters, he knows he can play the course better than most.

"I think for a lot of people outside looking in, this golf course was possibly my best chance of winning a major just with the way the golf course sets up and the ball flight that I have and the way I play the game," he said.

"But that's obviously easier said than done.

"There's a lot that goes into it, but as I said there in the press conference, it's about discipline. I have so much belief in my ability that it baits me into hitting shots that I don't need to hit.

"I think that's the thing around Augusta that you just have to be so disciplined and be really hitting it into the hearts of greens and making pars and moving on and picking up a couple of birdies here and there.

"Because that's the thing - I'll always make enough birdies that's not the problem, it's just keeping the mistakes and the big numbers off the card and that's sort of my focus this week, just being a little more conservative and being a little more patient.

"And if I can do that and then still tick off the par fives the way I know I can, that's a recipe for success around and here."

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