McIlroy unsure how Grand Slam pressure will affect him


Rory McIlroy confessed he is unsure about how he will cope with the pressure of closing in on the coveted Grand Slam if he has the opportunity to do so at The Masters this year.

The tournament at Augusta National is the only major eluding the world number three, with his career-best finish of fourth coming last year - six shots adrift of winner Jordan Spieth, who held a comfortable lead from the first round.

Subsequently, the Northern Irishman says he has not yet felt the weight of joining Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen as the only players to complete the Grand Slam on his shoulders.

Asked if had found the balance between how joining those five names motivated and pressured him, McIlroy responded: "I'll tell you at the end of the week, I guess!

"It's a motivation, to be able to put your name alongside those five guys. I haven't been in a situation where I've felt the pressure of it really, because I didn't have a chance to win the golf tournament last year so if on Sunday I find myself in a position where I have a realistic chance to do that ask me the same question and I'll be able to tell you.

"I feel like I'm a good enough player. I feel like I've got everything I need to become a Masters champion, but I think each and every year that passes that I don't, it'll become increasingly difficult. There's no time like the present to get it done."

Having been three-over par after 27 holes at the 2015 Masters, McIlroy knows he cannot afford another sluggish start this year if he is to have a chance of donning the green jacket.

"Last year I didn't do much wrong, I played well and finished 12-under for the tournament. But I was three over after 27 holes and that's not going to get it done," he said.

"I played the next 45 holes very well, and I think part of that was having so much expectation and thinking of the Grand Slam and the Masters and all of this, when I needed to just take a step back and relax and try to play my own game.

"I feel like the first 27 holes last year cost me the tournament, and if I could have had those back I would've gone in there with a different mindset. So I knew as soon as this tournament finished last year I was going to prepare a little bit different."

McIlroy has been paired with Martin Kaymer and Bill Haas in the final group to tee off on Thursday, but the world number three is confident he will be able to handle the wait.

"I've got many different ways to pass my time: working on another jigsaw puzzle, or we brought monopoly to the house that we're renting so there's a lot of fun stuff going on," he joked.

"I think it's the third year in a row that I've been last off on a Thursday or a Friday here, so I was sort of expecting it. But on a Thursday morning you just want to get out and play so there's probably going to be a bit of anticipation."