Rory McIlroy reacts to Tiger Woods backing him to win Masters for career grand slam

McIlroy has won four majors but needs a win at Augusta to complete the set.

Phil Casey
Wednesday 10 April 2024 07:53 BST
Rory McIlroy kept his media duties to a minimum ahead of the 88th Masters (Lynne Sladky/AP)
Rory McIlroy kept his media duties to a minimum ahead of the 88th Masters (Lynne Sladky/AP) (AP)

Tiger Woods reiterated his belief that Rory McIlroy will definitely win the Masters during his career to complete the grand slam as McIlroy kept his own media duties to a minimum.

McIlroy was the last player to register at Augusta National around 30 minutes before his scheduled press conference, which started early and saw the world number two answer just seven questions.

One of those was in response to Woods having earlier insisted it was just a “matter of time” before McIlroy earns a green jacket to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Woods himself in having won all four major titles.

“It’s flattering,” McIlroy said. “It’s nice to hear, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game say something like that.

“Does that mean that it’s going to happen? Obviously not. But he’s been around the game long enough to know that I at least have the potential to do it. I know I’ve got the potential to do it too. It’s not as if I haven’t been a pretty good player for the last couple of decades. But, yeah, it’s nice to hear it when it comes out of his mouth.”

Since winning the Open Championship in 2014, McIlroy has had nine attempts to win the Masters, his best finish of second in 2022 coming thanks to a stunning closing 64.

And despite missing the cut last year, McIlroy feels he has what it takes to claim a fifth major title at Augusta National and a first since the 2014 US PGA.

McIlroy, who famously held a four-shot lead after 54 holes in 2011 only to collapse to a closing 80, said: “I feel like I’ve got all the tools to do well this week.

“But to bring those tools out, I think one of the most important things is to enjoy it and smell the, I guess not the roses, the azaleas along the way.

“This is my 16th start in the Masters, so I feel like I’ve done it quite a few different ways, and I guess am just trying to bring a little bit of normalcy into what I sort of try to do week in, week out.

“I play 25 weeks a year, and there’s no point in doing anything different this week compared to other weeks, I guess.

“I wanted to play quite a bit leading up to this just to feel like my game was sharp or, if it wasn’t sharp, to try to get it in the best shape possible. I feel like I made a couple of good strides in that direction last week in Texas. I usually try to get into tournaments either Monday nights or Tuesday mornings, and that’s sort of what I’ve done this week. I came up here last week to play two practice rounds at the start of the week so I feel like I’ve already got most of my prep work done. So it’s just about going out there and being relaxed and being in the right frame of mind.

“Not trying to win it from the first tee shot is something that I’ve tried to learn. It’s a 72-hole golf tournament. I’ve won from 10 strokes back going into the weekend.

“This golf course gets you to chase things a little more than other golf courses, if you make a bogey or if you get yourself out of position, because it always tempts you to do something you think you can do.

“And I’m pretty confident in my golf game. I think I can do most things, but sometimes you just have to take the conservative route and be a little more disciplined and patient.”

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