The Masters 2014: Rory McIlroy did not realise Tiger Woods injury was 'so serious'

The Northern Irishman hopes to take advantage of the world number one's absence in Augusta

Rory McIlroy will hope he has finally found the secret to successful Masters preparation as he competes in this week's Shell Houston Open.

McIlroy has yet to record a top-10 finish in five appearances at Augusta National, his 'best' result being joint 15th in 2011 when he led by four shots going into the final round, only to collapse to a closing 80.

On that occasion, the 24-year-old did not play for three weeks before the year's first major championship, an approach he repeated in 2012 in the belief that he usually performed well when fresh.

That did not transpire and a finish of 40th at Augusta prompted a rethink, with 2013 seeing the Northern Irishman playing in Houston and at the Valero Texas Open before the Masters.

It looked to be a good idea as McIlroy was only denied victory in Texas by a brilliant closing 63 from Scotland's Martin Laird, but again there was to be no green jacket a week later. A third round of 79 was followed by a closing 69, but that was only good enough for a share of 25th.

McIlroy's most recent appearance saw him finish 25th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship in early March, although he has recorded two runners-up finishes in 2014 in Abu Dhabi and at the Honda Classic, where he lost out in a play-off.

 



One good omen for the former world number one could be that the last four majors that Tiger Woods missed through injury were all won by Irish golfers.

McIlroy won the 2011 US Open and Darren Clarke took the Open Championship a month later, while in 2008 Padraig Harrington won both the Open and US PGA Championship.

However, Harrington has yet to qualify for the Masters and has to win in Houston to avoid missing the trip to Augusta for the first time since 2009. The 42-year-old Dubliner is a lowly 189th in the FedEx Cup standings after making just three cuts in seven starts this season.

Harrington is not the only major champion set to miss out, with 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy also needing a win in Houston. The Australian was 11th in last week's Valero Texas Open.

Former world number one Luke Donald, European number one Henrik Stenson and Spain's Sergio Garcia are also in the field, while Phil Mickelson will partner Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson in the first two rounds if he has recovered from the pulled muscle which forced him out of the third round in Texas last week.

American DA Points returns to defend the title he won last year with a putter famously borrowed from his mother.

"I still am using the same putter and really I've been putting well with it ever since," Points said. "It hasn't maybe been quite as hot as it was at this event last year.

"I've been putting good and the stroke and all that part of my game feels good. My mom hasn't asked for the putter back because she knows she is not going to see it again."

McIlroy told BBC Sport: "You are getting so many different winners and there are not as many guys dominating the sport like in the past with Tiger, Vijay (Singh) and Phil (Mickelson).

"I'd like to establish myself as that sort of player and someone's got to step up so I'm trying to be that person and it would be a great place to start next week."

Tiger Woods clutches his painful lower back at Doral Tiger Woods clutches his painful lower back at Doral  

On Woods' injury, the world number seven added: "I knew that it was going to happen but I didn't realise it was so serious that he needed surgery.

"Obviously everyone wishes him a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back very soon because golf is better with Tiger Woods playing.

"He's had four operations on his left knee, he's had operations on his Achilles. There are obviously some weak points in his lower body and with how big he is in his upper body, there's obviously going to be something that has to take the strain.

"It seems like his lower back has been maybe working a little harder than it should have, to compensate for the surgeries he's had in his lower body.

"It's just sort of caught up with him, so I think surgery is a good thing for him and he'll rehab it the right way. He's got the best advice in the world so he will only come back when he's ready to play.

"He'll come back healthy and obviously put the right procedures and structures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again."

PA

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week