Masters Interviews: Rory, Tiger, Phil, Justin & Sergio on their chances of making history this week


Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia all have a shot at making history this week with a win at The Masters - but what do they make of their chances?

Rory McIlroy is looking to becoming the sixth player in history to complete the grand slam; Tiger could create the greatest sporting comeback in history if he assumes his challenge on Jack's 18th majors with no.15 this week; Phil could become the oldest Masters champion; JT is targetting the World No.1 spot; and Sergio Garcia could become the fourth Masters Champion to successfully defend their title. 

So how likely do they all think their individual scenarios are? And are they putting much focus on them? 

Here's what each player said when they were questioned about their own potential feats during their press conferences on Tuesday... 

Rory on targetting the grand slam . . . 

I'm an avid fan of the history of the game, and I know a win here and what that would mean and where that would put me in history alongside some of the greatest that have ever played this game, and that would be mean an awful lot to me.  But have I to try and clear my head of that come Thursday morning and go out and play good golf, hit good golf shots, have good course management, hole putts.  If you do that enough times, hopefully that score on Sunday evening's the lowest out of all 87 or 88 competitors that are here and you walk away with something that you'll have for the rest of your life. 

I mean, there's loads of different numbers you could throw around.  As you said, Hogan and Snead on their 10th go.  Arnold won his first Masters at 28.  There's a lot of different comparisons you could make.  But it's all really meaningless unless you go out there and actually do it. 

So, but I feel like I've been here long enough and I've played enough rounds around here to know how to play this golf course well and well enough to win.  I never come in here thinking I've served my time and this is my ‑‑ this is my turn and ‑‑ because it's never your turn.  You have to go out and get it.  It's not going to ‑‑ I said this in an interview a few weeks ago, it's not going to fall into your lap, you have to go out and win the Masters and you have to go and earn it.  And I'm here this week to earn it all. 

I feel like I'm coming in here in great form and excited to have another chance to try and win this great tournament.  So excited for the week.  Feel like I couldn't come in here with better form.  It was great to get a win a couple of weeks ago, and hopefully I can just carry that golf forward for the next few days.

Tiger on the greatest comeback in sporting history . . . 

Well, I have four rounds to play, so let's just kind of slow down.  I've had anticipation like this prior.  If you remember the build‑up was from the PGA of 2000 to the Masters of 2001, nine months of building up, what that tournament would mean.  And it's the same thing.  I got to go play and then let the chips fall where they may, and hopefully I end up on top.  But I got a lot of work to do between now and then. 

As far as greatest comebacks, I think that one of the greatest comebacks in all of sport is the gentleman who won here, Mr. Hogan.  I mean, he got hit by a bus and came back and won Major Championships.  The pain he had to endure, the things he had to do just to play, the wrapping of the leg, all the hot tubs and just the ‑‑ how hard it was for him to walk, walk period, and he ended up walking 36 holes and winning a U.S. Open.  And that's just ‑‑ that's one of the greatest comebacks there is, and it happens to be in our sport. 

Q.  You spoke about the high level of competition here.  Do you feel like you'll have to play your best golf to win?

TW:  I really hope I'm playing my best golf.  This is a tournament I think that where experience does help a lot.  I mean, I have played here and I've won here not playing my absolute best, but there's got to be a certain part of my game that's on.  I think that this tournament really helps with having the experience and really understanding how to play this particular golf course. 

I've played well over the years, I've won here a few times, but all those years that I've won, one part of my game has certainly stood out.  And whether it's driving the ball like I did in '97 and putting it a couple years where I really putted well or hitting my irons and hitting a lot of greens, but not only missing, missing in the correct spots every single time, there's got to be some sort of certain part of my game that's got to be on, and hopefully this will be one of those weeks. 

Phil (47) on his chance to become the oldest winner of The Masters, which would see him replace Jack Nicklaus (who was 46). . . 

It is hard for me to believe given that I have watched that Masters so many times over the years that I remember watching it when I was in high school and how hard I pulled for him and how much I loved that Masters.  And the other participants in that, too, from Norman to Seve to Kite, all these players that had great opportunities there on Sunday, what an exciting Masters that was. 

And now to think that I'm this age, the time just flies by, it goes by so quick, I still feel or I can still remember the feelings as a high school player of dreaming of participating in this tournament, dreaming of winning this tournament.  And for me to sit here now as a past champion, it really means a lot to me.

Justin Thomas on the chance to become World No.1 . . . 

It's very important to me.  It's a huge goal of mine.  But at the end of the day, if I just continue to play well and continue to be in contention to win tournaments and win tournaments, it's something I feel like that's going to take care of itself.  And that's what I was a little upset with myself, that I got kind of wrapped up in last week (at the WGC Match Play), because I was playing my match to become No. 1 in the world instead of playing my match to have a chance to win the tournament.  And that's very immature of me.  That's very not mentally strong.  It's just unlike me.  So that was frustrating. 

But it is a huge deal, and when and if it's meant to be, and however long, that it will happen.  So I just need to go out and try to play well this week. 

Sergio Garcia on his chance to be the fourth person to win back-to-back majors . . .

sergio garcia

You want the simple ‑‑ the simple answer is it's just difficult to win.  It doesn't matter if it's back‑to‑back or just one.  So people don't realize how difficult it is to win any tournament, and a Major is even tougher, and Augusta and the Masters, it's even more difficult. 

So it's just not easy to do it one time, so imagine twice.  And back‑to‑back.  So it doesn't mean that I'm not going to give it my best shot and I'm going to try as hard as I can, but it's not easy to do it.

I feel like my game is ‑‑ it feels quite solid.  I'm obviously coming off three good tournaments, three Top‑10s.  But like I said earlier, every week is different, and it's just a matter of how I'm going to feel on Thursday, how the nerves are going to be, because I know I'm going to be a little bit nervous. 

This is my first time defending a Major and a Green Jacket, so it's new to me.  But I'll try to go through the things that I know help me and hopefully get off to a good start, decent start, and really enjoy the week.  But no matter what, this week is going to be amazing, and the most beautiful thing about it is that I get to play the Masters as ‑‑ until I can't walk.  So that's pretty cool.