McIlroy at the Masters
A closer look at his history at Augusta National
November 21, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
A closer look at his history at Augusta National
Rory McIlroy can complete the career Grand Slam at this season’s Masters, but he’ll have to overcome a course that has frustrated him and was the site of his most disappointing moment as a professional.
McIlroy seemingly has the perfect game for Augusta National. His long, right-to-left tee shots set up perfectly for the famed fairways and allow him to take advantage of the par-5s. He’s had successful spurts in the season’s first major, working his way into contention in each of the past four years, but has been derailed each time by at least one difficult day. He’s shot 77 or higher in each of the past four Masters.
He almost won his first major here in 2011, taking a four-shot lead into the final round, before shooting 80. That setback only set him up to win the U.S. Open two months later.
Here’s a closer look at how McIlroy has fared at Augusta National, the only course that stands between him and the career Grand Slam.
Scores: 72-73-71-70--286, -2
What happened: McIlroy was 19 years old when he made his Masters debut. He won his first professional title, the Dubai Desert Classic, earlier in the year and was No. 17 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The Masters was his first major as a professional. “It's been a dream of mine for a long time to be able to play in the Masters, and for that dream to finally come true is a pretty special feeling,” McIlroy said.
He moved into contention in the second round after making eagle at the par-5 13th to reach 4 under, but that was followed by a dramatic fall and a near-disqualification. He four-putted the par-3 16th for double-bogey, though, and made triple-bogey at the final hole after needing two shots to get out of a greenside bunker. Playing the final three holes in 5 over dropped McIlroy from sixth place to the cut line. He advanced to the weekend without a shot to spare.
After barely surviving the cut, he was spared disqualification later in the day.
McIlroy appeared to kick the sand after his first bunker shot at No. 18, which would constitute testing the surface of the hazard while his ball rested in it. The tournament’s rules committee met for four hours, and summoned McIlroy back to the course after 8 p.m., before releasing a statement that there was no infraction. He would have been disqualified had a penalty been assessed because he had already signed his card.
McIlroy made a late charge in the final round to move into the top 25. He made six birdies in his final 10 holes, including on Nos. 15-17, to shoot 70.
Eagles: 1 (No. 13, Round 2)
Double-bogeys: 2 (No. 16, Round 2; No. 6, Round 4)
Triple-bogeys: 1 (No. 18, Round 2)
Fairways hit: T24, 41 of 56
Greens hit: T39, 43 of 72
Putts: T5, 110
Finish: Missed cut
Scores: 74-77--151, +7
What happened: McIlroy made just two birdies – both in the first round – en route to his only missed cut at the Masters. He hadn’t finished better than 40th in four PGA TOUR stroke-play starts before Augusta National, including a missed cut at the previous week’s Shell Houston Open.
“I just didn't play well and I need a bit of time to get it back on track,” McIlroy told the Belfast Telegraph. “I don't know what is going on, I just need to take a bit of a break and come back with a refreshed attitude. I am getting frustrated very easily and getting down on myself. I just think that I need to go home and get my head sorted.”
McIlroy, who also arrived at Augusta National with a slight back injury, said after the second round that he was taking an extended break from the game, and was debating whether to return at the following month’s Wells Fargo Championship or take a longer hiatus.
“I might need a bit more time to let this injury clear up and clear my head,” he said.
He did return at Wells Fargo, and should be glad he did. He shot a final-round 62 there to claim his first TOUR title.
Double-bogeys: 1 (No. 7, Round 2)
Fairways hit: NR, 20 of 28
Greens hit: NR, 20 of 36
Putts: NR, 61
Scores: 65-69-70-80--284, -4
What happened: The 2011 Masters may have been one of the most important weeks of McIlroy’s career. His final-round collapse was heartbreaking, but it preceded his dominant win two months later at the U.S. Open.
“I was very honest with myself and I knew what I needed to do differently,” McIlroy said after his eight-shot win at Congressional. “I had a clear picture in my mind of what I needed to do and where my focus needed to be when I got myself in that position again.”
He started the final round of the 2011 Masters with a four-shot lead after making 15 birdies and just three bogeys over the first 54 holes. His lead was down to one shot after shooting 1-over 37 on the front nine, though.
Things really started to fall apart on the 10th hole. He pull-hooked his tee shot near the cabins left of the hole and needed five shots to reach the green. He three-putted No. 11 and four-putted from 20 feet at the par-3 12th. He was 6 over on Nos. 10-12 and played Augusta National’s second nine in 43.
“It's going to be hard to take for a few days, but I'll get over it,” he said.
He proved that at the U.S. Open, where he claimed his first major.
Double-bogeys: 1 (No. 12, Round 4)
Triple-bogeys: 1 (No. 10, Round 4)
Fairways hit: T15, 40 of 56
Greens hit: T3, 54 of 72
Putts: T42, 124
Scores: 71-69-77-76--293, +5
What happened: McIlroy was in third place, one shot off the lead, at the halfway mark, but fell apart on the weekend. He started the third round with a double-bogey, made another one at No. 7 and shot 6-over 42 on the first nine. His third-round 77 dropped him from third to 27th, 10 shots off the lead.
“Seems like every year I come here I throw a bad nine holes out there,” McIlroy said.
It got so bad that playing partner Sergio Garcia, who shot 75 in the third round, gave McIlroy a hug after each player made his first birdie of the day at No. 12.
“We needed to feel a little love from someone out there,” McIlroy said.
McIlroy needed to birdie two of his final four holes Sunday to salvage a 76. He finished 15 shots behind winner Bubba Watson after shooting 153 on the weekend.
“Just came out on Saturday and really just didn't have it that front nine, and that sort of killed me for the rest of the tournament,” McIlroy said. “But I'll come back next year and try my best again.”
Double-bogeys: 4 (No. 1, Round 1; No. 1, Round 3; No. 7, Round 3; No. 11, Round 4)
Fairways hit: T50, 36 of 56
Greens hit: T24, 45 of 72
Putts: T41, 121
Scores: 72-70-79-69--290, +2
What happened: McIlroy struggled with his swing and new equipment early in the season, so much so that he added the Valero Texas Open, played the week preceding the Masters, to his schedule to get another tournament under his belt. He finished second there – beaten by Martin Laird’s final-round 63 – to give himself momentum before the Masters.
He got off to a good start at Augusta National, but a poor third round derailed him for the second consecutive year.
He was T13, four shots off the lead, at the halfway point in 2013.
Then he shot a 79 on Saturday. He was 1 under for the first six holes before making bogeys on Nos. 7 and 9. Then there were 7s at No. 11 (triple-bogey) and No. 15 (double-bogey) after hitting into the water on each hole.
“The margins are very small on this course and when you get on the wrong side of some of these slopes, you can't help but get a penalty,” McIlroy said. “A couple of missed shots here and there and, but, I felt like I was done in on 11 and 15, but that's the way it goes.”
He started the final round 12 shots off the lead, but made four birdies and just one bogey in the final round.
“I shot good enough scores around here, I just haven't put them all together in four rounds,” McIlroy said. “So when I'm able to do that, I hope that I'll go close.
“It's just the way Augusta is, and I think you have to embrace it and accept that's what it's going to be like sometimes.”
Eagles: 1 (No. 8, Round 2)
Double-bogeys: 1 (No. 15, Round 3)
Triple-bogeys: 1 (No. 11, Round 3)
Fairways hit: T16, 39 of 56
Greens hit: T23, 46 of 72
Putts: T27, 118
Scores: 71-77-71-69--288, E
What happened: McIlroy may have lost to an amateur in the third round, but he still posted his best Masters finish and developed a relationship that could be crucial as he tries to complete the career Grand Slam.
He again couldn’t avoid a high round at Augusta National. It was the fourth consecutive year that he shot 77 or higher at the Masters. It happened in the second round this year, and he made the cut without a shot to spare.
As the first player to tee off in the third round, McIlroy was paired with Augusta National member Jeff Knox. Knox beat McIlroy, 70-71, in the third round. “I thought he was going to be nice and 3‑putt the last and we would have a halve, but he beat me by one,” McIlroy said.
After his Open Championship win, McIlroy said he intended to play practice rounds at Augusta National with Knox to get a better feel for the course’s famed putting surfaces.
“He's the best I've ever seen on Augusta's greens,” McIlroy said of Knox.
McIlroy started the final round in 24th place, eight shots off the lead. His final-round 69, which featured six birdies and three bogeys, was one of just five rounds in the 60s on Sunday.
McIlroy graded his tee-to-green play favorably for the week, but was upset about playing the par-5s in even par. He made bogey on both of Augusta National’s par-5s (Nos. 13 and 15) on the second nine on Sunday.
“It's been a frustrating week, because I felt like from tee‑to‑green I played as good as the leaders,” McIlroy said. “I don't think I've ever played as good tee‑to‑green around this course as I have this week.”
Double-bogeys: 2 (No. 4, Round 2; No. 10, Round 2)
Fairways hit: T23, 38 of 56
Greens hit: T2, 52 of 72
Putts: 49th, 125
Scores: 71-71-68-66--276, -12
What happened: McIlroy missed out on his first attempt at the career Grand Slam, but for the second consecutive year he posted his best finish at Augusta National.
He was 3 over par and around the cut line after the tournament's first 27 holes, but shot 5-under 31 on the second nine Friday to avoid an early exit. McIlroy was 15 under on his final 45 holes to finish fourth.
He was six shots behind winner Jordan Spieth, though. McIlroy was never in serious contention. He was seven shots back after the first round and 12 shots off the lead at the halfway point.
"I can take a lot of positives from it," McIlroy said. "I did a lot of things I wanted to do well. I played the par 5s well. Just left myself too much to do after 27 holes of this golf tournament."
Eagles: 2 (No. 13, Round 2; No. 2, Round 3)
Double-bogeys: 1 (No. 9, Round 2)
Fairways hit: T8, 43 of 56
Greens hit: 4th, 53 of 72