Rory McIlroy ‘comfortable’ with game ahead of the Valero Texas Open and The Masters | Golf News

McIlroy headlines the Valero Texas Open, where Bryson DeChambeau and Hideki Matsuyama also feature, ahead of his latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam at The Masters; Watch Featured Groups live on Thursday from 1.30pm on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 31/03/22 8:46am


Rory McIlroy says that Tiger Woods has made huge strides in recent weeks and is doing everything he can to play in The Masters.

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Rory McIlroy says that Tiger Woods has made huge strides in recent weeks and is doing everything he can to play in The Masters.

Rory McIlroy says that Tiger Woods has made huge strides in recent weeks and is doing everything he can to play in The Masters.

Rory McIlroy has altered his preparation for his eighth attempt to complete the career Grand Slam and could not be happier with the difference in his game from 12 months ago.

At this time last year, McIlroy had turned to coach Pete Cowen to rediscover his form after missing the cut in his Players Championship title defence and being thrashed 6&5 by Ian Poulter in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The move did not pay instant dividends as McIlroy missed the cut in the Masters for just the second time in his career, but he then won on his next start at the Wells Fargo Championship and claimed another PGA Tour title at The CJ Cup in October.

McIlroy is the highest-ranked player in action at the Valero Texas Open this week

McIlroy is the highest-ranked player in action at the Valero Texas Open this week

McIlroy started 2022 with four straight top-15 places and, after finishing 33rd in a weather-affected Players Championship, opted to skip the WGC Match Play before contesting this week’s Valero Texas Open.

“It’s chalk and cheese,” McIlroy said of his form in 2022 compared to last year. “Actually, I wanted to play this event last year but, after The Players and the Match Play, I felt like it was better for me to just work on my swing at home and just work on my game because at least I had an opportunity to do that going into Augusta.

The waiting is almost over for the opening men's major of the year, with extended coverage from Augusta National live on Sky Sports' dedicated Masters channel.

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The waiting is almost over for the opening men’s major of the year, with extended coverage from Augusta National live on Sky Sports’ dedicated Masters channel.

The waiting is almost over for the opening men’s major of the year, with extended coverage from Augusta National live on Sky Sports’ dedicated Masters channel.

“So yeah, it’s way different. I’m way more comfortable with my game, I’m happy with where everything is. Everything seems like it’s a lot more settled.”

Since winning The Open in 2014 to secure the third leg of the career Grand Slam, McIlroy has had seven attempts to win the Masters and join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having claimed all four major titles.

Rory McIlroy says the game of golf is better when Tiger Woods is playing, and that having him feature at The Masters would be 'phenomenal'.

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Rory McIlroy says the game of golf is better when Tiger Woods is playing, and that having him feature at The Masters would be ‘phenomenal’.

Rory McIlroy says the game of golf is better when Tiger Woods is playing, and that having him feature at The Masters would be ‘phenomenal’.

On all seven occasions McIlroy has had at least one week off before the year’s first major, but this year he will compete at TPC San Antonio following a scouting trip to Augusta.

“I haven’t really enjoyed the format of the Match Play the last couple of years and I just wanted to mix it up and I still wanted to feel like I was sharp going into Augusta,” McIlroy said. “I wanted my last competitive start before Augusta to be a stroke play event instead of match play. It’s two completely different mindsets, so that was part of the reason, too.

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“I was at Augusta the last couple of days and I just went there on my own. I didn’t go with any members, I didn’t stay on property. I just wanted to come and see the golf course.”

The length of the par-four 11th hole at Augusta National has been increased by 15 yards, meaning it now plays 10 yards longer than the par-five 13th, with 20 yards added to the par-five 15th.

Rich Beem explores why Rory McIlroy is not as consistent with his irons and what swing changes could benefit him.

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Rich Beem explores why Rory McIlroy is not as consistent with his irons and what swing changes could benefit him.

Rich Beem explores why Rory McIlroy is not as consistent with his irons and what swing changes could benefit him.

“Obviously there’s some changes to the golf course on 11 and 15,” McIlroy added. “Three, 13 and 17 are all brand new greens. I just wanted to go there and just see that for myself and sort of do a little bit of a scouting trip that I haven’t really done the last couple of years. It was good to be there, good to see the place.

“At least coming into this event and playing this week, I don’t feel like there’s a rush to get there next week and cram and prepare. I feel like I’ve already done most of my work, which is a nice feeling.”

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March 31, 2022, 1:30pm

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While McIlroy is assured of his place in the field at Augusta, one remaining berth is up for grabs for this week’s winner, with Ian Poulter and Richard Bland among those in the last-chance saloon.

Poulter took such a route by winning the Houston Open in 2018, while Bland narrowly failed to secure a Masters debut by climbing into the world’s top 50 after the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, despite winning his group in Austin.

Who will secure a last-minute invite to The Masters at the Valero Texas Open? Watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports! Live coverage begins on Thursday with Featured Groups from 1.30pm on Sky Sports Golf.


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