Chris Carlson
masters mind

McIlroy planning to conquer Augusta with 'aggressive' approach

The world number three is feeling more relaxed than usual ahead of this year’s tournament.

A RELAXED RORY McIlroy insists he has learned from previous mistakes at Augusta and will adopt an attacking game-plan at this year’s US Masters.

The 26-year-old is hoping to become the first European to win all four Major titles with victory in Georgia, a place he feels suits his style of play snugly.

But he admits that his putting, something that there has been extra focus on recently following a change of grip, has been the facet of his game that has cost him at Augusta in the past.

“I’ve got a great game for here,” McIlroy said.

“I hit it high. I can land the ball soft. I’ve got decent touch around the greens. The only thing that’s probably held me back in my career here is putting.

“You would think that this was a golf course that I can definitely win on, I know that. I just haven’t quite been able to get myself over the hurdle.”

In the past, the Holywood superstar says he has probably given the occasion too much attention. This year, a fearless McIlroy is determined to approach it like he would any other tournament, with aggression, ambition and simplicity.

I felt like the first couple years I was here, there was a sense of tentativeness in the way I was playing.

“But year after year that I’ve started coming back here, I’ve started to realise that this is probably one of the courses that we play all year that you can be super‑aggressive on and take it at pins, because these greens are big greens but they are in four or five different sections and you’re really just trying to get it in that certain section.

“I really feel like I play my best golf when I’m more relaxed, when I’m having fun out there … not overthinking it.

“I’m trying not to look too much into it. I’m trying not to hit so many shots off tees into greens, around the greens. I’m just trying to approach it more in a relaxed way and not overthink it, not overdo it.”

McIlroy has recorded five top-25 finishes from seven starts at Augusta, including a fourth-place finish last year and an infamous fourth-round meltdown in 2011, when he carded an 80 after beginning the day with a four-shot lead.

Last year, a sluggish start cost him dearly as Jordan Spieth raced out of the traps and was never caught.

And the Northern Irishman feels he is stronger for those experiences and that can only aid his chances to claim a maiden Masters title this weekend.

“I feel like last year, I didn’t do much wrong really. I played well. I finished 12‑under-par for the tournament. I stuck to my game plan for the most part. But again, I was 3‑over after 27 holes and that’s not going to get it done.

“I played the next, whatever, 45 holes very, very well. I think part of that was having so much expectation and thinking of the Grand Slam and thinking of the Masters and thinking of all this where I needed to just take a step back and relax and go out and try and play my own game.

Charlie Riedel Charlie Riedel

“I feel like the first 27 holes last year really cost me the tournament, and if I could have had those back, I would have went in there with a different mind‑set and a different disposition, I guess.

“So I knew as soon as this tournament finished last year that I was going to prepare maybe a little bit differently for it this year.”

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