Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rory McIlroy will take a preview look

at Augusta National on March 28/29

Rory McIlroy has had a change of mind and will now make a reconnaissance trip to Augusta National at the end of this month, which could help him become the youngest champion in the history of the US Masters.
When the 19-year-old makes his debut in the major major of the 2009 season - from April 9th-12th - he will be bidding to become the first debutant to win since Fuzzy Zoeller beat Ed Sneed and Tom Watson in the event’s first sudden-death play-off, 30 years ago.
McIlroy would be just 19 years, 11 months and eight days if he were to land the title at the first attempt. While he had planned to wait until tournament week to see Augusta for the first time, he has changed his mind after discussions with his manager, Chubby Chandler.
He will play the course on March 28th or 29th, before warming up in the following week’s Houston Open.
Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy, who beat McIlroy 2 and 1 in the quarter-finals of the Accenture Matchplay Championship before going on to win the title on Sunday, believes that McIlroy’s decision to ease the awe-factor surrounding Augusta National will make it easier for him to contend in the tournament proper.
“If you go there playing well, I can’t see why he is not going to contend,” Ogilvy said. “The key part is the mental aspect and it will do him good to get there before the tournament.
“It would be a massive disadvantage not to do that, because he gets all that out of the way and, when he turns up in tournament week, he can just go. It is a cool place and it is worth seeing for the first time without anybody there.
“Just going up the driveway and being in the locker-room and under the tree, or the way they announce you going off the first tee with ‘Fore, please’, it is a different kind of deal.
“The history at Augusta is the hardest thing to get your head around, for sure. You can always work a golf course out.”
On average each champion has taken six attempts before winning his first Green Jacket, and even Tiger Woods had to wait until his third visit before he became the youngest Masters champion, at 21 years, three months and 14 days in 1997.
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times



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