McIlroy gunning for the Career Grand Slam
Masters victory this week would see 2014 Champion Golfer, Rory McIlroy, become the first European player to complete the Career Grand Slam.
In the sport’s history only five players have claimed all four of golf's majors with Tiger Woods the last to do so when he won The Open at St Andrews in 2000. So can the World No.7 from Holywood join this historic club by winning the Green Jacket on Sunday?
In 2011, McIlroy won the first of his four major titles. The Northern Irishman triumphed at the US Open at Congressional in Bethesda, Maryland by eight strokes from Jason Day, with a record 16-under-par winning score. At just 22 years of age, he became the tournament’s youngest winner since Bobby Jones in 1923.
The following summer he clinched the PGA Championship by the same margin – a record eight strokes – to move to the top of the world rankings.
And in 2014, McIlroy won his third major: a wire-to-wire victory at The 143rd Open, at Royal Liverpool, finishing two strokes clear of Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. A second victory at the PGA Championship later that summer at Valhalla followed, leading the great Jack Nicklaus to tip McIlroy to go on and win “15 or 20 majors”.
Despite his success, pulling on the Green Jacket has thus far eluded McIlroy, ever since his first appearance at the Masters in 2009, when he finished 20th.
He has teed off at Augusta nine times and has finished inside the top ten on five occasions, missing the cut only once. In 2011, he was first-round leader after shooting 65, and followed that up with rounds of 69 and 70 to begin the final day four strokes clear of the field. McIlroy then shot 80 to finish in a share of 15th place.
Can he finally become the Master?
There are few courses as testing as Augusta, but McIlroy is the complete player and is as well-equipped as ever to triumph come Sunday. His driving distance and accuracy should give him an advantage on the majority of the field but, as always, it will come down to performance on the greens that will elevate the Champion on Sunday night. Victory at the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill was lit up by a fabulous display with the putter - the kind of performance he'll need to replicate this week.
The 28-year-old also secured successive second and third place finishes at the start of the year at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
With enough years of Masters wisdom and his game returning to top form, all that stands in the way of McIlroy winning The 2018 Masters and a career Grand Slam is himself.