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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence