Masters 2014: Rory McIlroy is plagued by return of the old demons


Augusta National

Play in the Masters for any length of time and any player’s yardage book will fill with symbols that might equate to a skull and crossbones on a ancient treasure map: “Here be demons.”

At the age of 24 and having now played in six Masters, Rory McIlroy’s Augusta map is littered with no-go areas. Many are so far off the beaten track they are not on the usual tourist guides.

Take his visit to the cabins off the 10th tee three years ago, which he visited en route to a back-nine meltdown of such epic proportions that a lesser character might have never been heard of again. Instead, McIlroy won the next major championship by eight strokes. He won another by the same distance the following year.

But at Augusta he is still battling demons. More were added this year. In Friday’s second round he overhit the fourth green to such a degree that he almost struck Adam Scott on the fifth tee. At the 10th, he ran down the bank behind the green into a bush and, at the 13th, his approach took a mighty hard bounce off a sprinkler head on the back edge of the green and left him flailing about in the azaleas.

If the idea of his girlfriend, the tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, dyeing her hair scarlet this week was to blend in with the famously colourful flora in these parts, it did not seem to work. McIlroy made the cut but he was first out on Saturday morning and had the ignominy of being outscored by a marker, a 50-year-old club member.

No matter that the Northern Irishman’s 71 was one of only a handful of sub-par scores and he jumped more than 20 spots up the leader board, the image of the pre-tournament favourite being bested by someone not even competing in the event was irresistible.

In yesterday’s final round, McIlroy was playing alongside a worthier adversary in Jimmy Walker, the only player to have won three times so far this season on the PGA Tour.

Wozniacki was following her fiancé again but this time once more her usual blonde self. Perhaps she was trying to go incognito but the change only partially improved  McIlroy’s fortunes.

He has been driving the ball terrifically well but he failed to take advantage of big boomers at the first couple of holes. He missed from six feet for a three at the opening hole and could not get up and down from a bunker at the second so had to settle for a par there as well.

His luck seemed out again, until the seventh hole. In the trees himself now, McIlroy spotted the tiniest of gaps in the branches and threaded it through to the green, where his ball rolled back down a slope to a couple of feet.

Finally, the world No 9 had a spring in his step and it proved the first of three birdies in a row. At the ninth, he saw his approach finish close to the hole, but in danger in sliding off the front of the green so he sprinted up the hill, strictly against Augusta etiquette, and marked it quickly.

A fine approach at the 11th, the hardest hole on the course this year, to three feet gave him a fourth birdie in five holes. This was more like it. But then the demons returned.

At the reachable par-fives on the back nine, the 13th and the 15th, he took bogey sixes. At the former he failed to carry the creek in front of the green, while at the latter he sailed his second over the green. The ball did not quite run into the pond on the 16th, as Walker’s did, but he still took four to get down after his first chip failed to reach the green.

There were also birdies at the 14th and 16th holes but the frustrating errors at the two par-fives summed up his inconsistent campaign. A birdie putt at the last refused to drop, of course. A closing 69 could have been better and the problem for McIlroy here has been his good rounds have not been good enough to make up for his habit of throwing in one shocker every year. In the last five Masters, he has returned three 77s, including on Friday, a 79 and an 80.

Walker finished with a 70, so the pair ended the week tied on level par. The leaders were out of sight but the prospect of a top 10 finish was something for McIlroy to cling to since his previous best result had been a tie for 15th place.

One year it will all click for McIlroy here, his demons will be tamed and the hair colour of his future wife will only be an issue if it clashes with the Green Jacket. It is a good theory but Greg Norman  and Ernie Els are two  perennial Augusta hopefuls who can attest that it is not always that simple.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map