Rory McIlroy made a terrific tee shot with some clutch putts and new equipment in his final Master tuneup, increasing expectations of a win to complete a career Grand Slam.
World number two McIlroy, a four-time major champion, just needs a green jacket to join Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen with a win at every major tournament. .
“My game is really good,” McIlroy said. “Just keep going and work on the shots I need for Augusta National and we’re off.”
The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland has not won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship, but he produced his best performance since then by finishing second behind Scottie Scheffler last year. at Augusta National, the best of his four top 10s. largely completed in 2022.
McIlroy earned the rights for Scheffler last week by tying him for third place at the WGC Match Play Championship, capping off a strong week of shots.
“It’s something that gets better going to Augusta,” McIlroy said. “I’m very confident with where my game is at, especially knowing what’s coming up.”
After missing the cut at The Players Championship, McIlroy tried out a new driver and putter in the Match Play with an eye on Thursday to begin the 87th Masters.
“For the first week I thought both ends of the bag, the driver and the putter, were really good,” McIlroy said.
“Definitely a better driver. I thought the putter looked pretty good for the most part. I felt like I improved with the putter as the week went on.
“All I thought was that most aspects of the game were going well.”
A great example of McIlroy’s drive hit on the 375-yard, par-4 18th hole was placed within four feet of the hole.
“The drive on 18 was really good and long and fair and whatever, it was a good shot, but there were a few other shots out there that I liked better.
That tee shot got all the headlines and attention, but there are other parts of the game that I like more and enjoy that will translate better as the year goes on.”
McIlroy wasn’t happy with the drive’s accuracy of nearly 50% so he changed his driver.
“I went with a little bit of a soft putt, and that actually helped a lot. I feel like I can hit it again,” McIlroy said. “Feel a little more comfortable playing-wise.”
Crazy Scheffler in Match Play gave McIlroy the confidence for an example on Sunday at the Masters.
“If we play this well, fast forward two weeks, it’s probably not a bad preparation,” McIlroy said.
“More than none of us will probably argue in the final round … this is very worthwhile.”
McIlroy is one of the players working closely with the changes in the structure of the PGA Tour to create more big money and superstars, answering the challenge from the LIV Golf series first but saying that the work has been hampered his performance in class.
“That’s fair,” he said. “I’m happy to go back to being a golfer, it’s been very busy for six or eight months, the wheels are in motion, so it should be calm.
“It’s just time management, more time at home to make sure you’re ready… So maybe I sacrificed a little time on some of these things.”