Rory McIlroy was looking to complete the career grand-slam when he teed up at Augusta National, but instead had to settle with his fourth top 10 finish in a row.
A disappointed McIlroy has admitted that his game simply wasn’t good enough to win, as moments of brilliance were cancelled out by periods of play to forget.
The conditions during the first two rounds were windy and very tough, and while the World No.2 battled back from three over after eight holes to a level-par 72 on the first day, it wasn’t the start he had hoped for.
By Sunday, McIlroy started seven shots behind the leaders, and while he finally managed to put together an under-par round, it was only to finish the tournament six shots back of Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.
“Top tens isn’t what I’m looking for, but at the same time the ups and downs I’ve had here in the past don’t quite seem to be so up and quite so down. It seems a little more steady and that can only bode well for the future.”
The World No.2 has deliberately not signed any equipment deals this season, which is allowing him to tinker with the clubs (and the golf ball) that he plays with. Prior to the Masters he made a last-minute change, and played with a mixture of Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist clubs and the new Titleist Pro V1x golf ball.
Previously, McIlroy has stated that he uses the Pro V1x because it works best with the Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero driver in his bag, but after being unhappy with his performance at Augusta – it appears he’s changed his mind.
“I need to change my golf ball. That’s a big thing,” said McIlroy.
“I thought my golf ball this week was doing weird things in the wind. It was very inconsistent so there’s one thing I will change and try to work on the next few weeks.”
“I feel I’m swinging it as good as I have been for a long time, I’ve done a lot of good work with Michael (Bannon, his coach) over the last couple of weeks, my putting feels as good as it has done in a long time.”
Luckily, thanks to his lack of an equipment deal due to Nike dissolving their golf club production last year, it’s something that he can change at will.
“I feel like I’m a good driver of the golf ball. I’m going to tinker with some equipment over the next couple of weeks and find something better.”
Since returning to competitive action from a rib injury early this season, McIlroy has recorded a T4 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and two T7 finishes (at the WGC Mexico and the Masters). He finished T30 at the WGC Dell Match Play, but was knocked out after only one match as Gary Woodland withdrew for personal reasons.
All in all, it’s been a promising start for the former World No.1, and he’s targetting a strong season and feels positive about his chances in the next majors.
“(US Open venue) Erin Hills is an unknown for everyone but Birkdale is one of the best Open courses on the roster and we are going to Quail Hollow for the PGA and I’ve had success there in the past, so nothing but positives ahead I feel and my game feels in good shape.
“It’s just a matter of working hard and putting myself in position to win. I’ve turned my focus to getting ready for the US Open in June and trying to add to my major tally there.”
Rory McIlroy: What’s in the bag (accurate as of the Masters)
Driver: Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero (9.5 degrees); Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 70XTS
Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 Tour (13.5 and 18 degrees; Shaft: Mitsubishi Rayon Tensei CK Blue 90TX (13.5), Fujikura Pro P95X (18)
Irons: Callaway Apex MB Prototype (4-9); Shafts: True Temper Project X 7.0
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6 (46-08 F Grind, 54-10 S Grind and 60-08 M Grind)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.5
Putter: Odyssey prototype with Microhinge Insert
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x (2017)