AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy is offering no excuses. The equipment he’s playing with is fine. His swing is fine. Even his tooth is fine.
And that’s enough for him to feel very good about his chances this week at the Masters.
“Anything less than a win be a disappointment,” said McIlroy. “It would be. Every time you come to Augusta, you’re wanting to win that green jacket. And every time you don’t, it’s another chance missed.”
As the world’s second-ranked player, McIlroy is in the conversation as one of the favorites for the Masters, which begins Thursday. But it’s been an odd kind of year for McIlroy, who took an unplanned detour to the Texas Open last week in an attempt to rediscover a game that seemed to be abandoning him earlier.
It was a good move for McIlroy, who shot a final-round 66 to finish second behind Martin Laird.
“I got what I wanted out of it in terms of playing more competitive golf, getting the scorecard in my hand, shooting scores,” said McIlroy. “I think a bonus was getting into contention. And how I played when I got into contention was pleasing.”
Being that high on the leaderboard was a welcome change for McIlroy. After rising to the top spot in the world rankings in 2012 – a year that included him winning his second major, the PGA Championship – his 2013 season started out poorly.
Playing with unfamiliar equipment from his new sponsor Nike, McIlroy stumbled early, missing the cut at a tournament in Abu Dhabi, losing in the first round of the World Golf Match Play Championships, then withdrawing from the Honda Classic after complaining of a toothache.
That was followed by a tie for eighth at Doral and then a 45th at the Houston Open.