With The Masters upon us, one plot-line has been dominating the build-up – whether 2015 is the year that world no.1 Rory McIlroy finally wins at Augusta. It’s a course which is made for his high soft draw, and yet has been a constant thorn in his side.
Having won consecutive majors in the latter part of last year at the British Open and US PGA Championship respectively, the Northern Irishman is chasing a rare case of back-to-back-to-back major wins. McIlroy has made no secret of his main objective for 2015, signified by his response to a reporter in Dubai back in November 2014. When asked for his goals for the upcoming year, he kept his answer brief: “Green Jacket”.
It’s the most coveted prize in golf and the ultimate accolade to have on any golfer’s CV. Despite supposedly having an ideal game to conquer Augusta, McIlroy has had some of his worst career moments at The Masters.
In 2011, he held at least a share of the lead over each of the first three days, and entered the final round with a four shot advantage. The then 21-year-old had a back-nine meltdown, starting with a triple bogey at the 10th. From there, McIlroy’s bid completely unravelled, posting a final round 80 to finish 10 shots back from eventual winner Charl Schwartzel.
It was a similar story the following year as McIlroy entered the third round just one shot off the lead, but finished Sunday tied for 40th on five over par. For the last two years, McIlroy has improved year-on-year finishing tied for 25th in 2013 and sharing 8th place in 2014. Will he continue that trend this week and secure that elusive Masters title?
If the 25-year-old hoped to keep a low profile amongst the media chatter preceding this year’s first major, the plan failed as Sky have dedicated a whole advert to McIlroy and his quest for Augusta glory. In addition to this, earlier this month came the announcement that McIlroy has also replaced Tiger Woods as the face of EA’s golf video game franchise, “PGA Tour”. The 2015 edition will see an end to Woods’ association with the game dating back to 1998. How fitting as well that McIlroy should replace Tiger having written him a letter aged nine saying, “I’m coming to get you.”
EA have gradually been diminishing Woods’ role since 2011, where the front cover was of the Masters flag, and the last two years where he shared the cover with Rickie Fowler and Arnold Palmer respectively. March was not a happy month for the former no.1 as the release from EA was coupled with the news last week that Woods has fallen out of the world’s top 100 ranked players.
The bookies currently have McIlroy as the odds-on favourite to clinch his career grand slam at this year’s Masters. A complete set of major wins under his belt at the age of 25 would be a remarkable feat and put him in some truly elite company. A career without a win at Augusta has been described as “unthinkable” by McIlroy. Whether 2015 is the year he finally puts on that Green Jacket, I’m not too sure. I can’t quite see it materialising just yet simply because of the number of young Americans (Spieth, Fowler, Reed to name a few…) entering the first major in considerable form, but surely the Holywood star won’t make us wait too long…
Can McIIroy complete the grand slam? Let us know your thoughts by posting below or contact us via the PHA Media website