|Rory McIlroy eyes ’awesome’ Grand Slam with Masters win. — Photo golf365.com|
MIAMI — Rory McIlroy said on Wednesday achieving a career Grand Slam at the Masters next month would be "awesome" for golf as he warms up for Augusta at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.
The 29-year-old Northern Irishman could become only the sixth player to win all four major titles with a victory at the Masters, an elite club that both Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson can also enter this season.
Talking to reporters at Bay Hill on Wednesday, McIlroy said any player who manages to enter the pantheon alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods would deliver a boost to the sport.
"I mean, how good would that be for golf? That would be awesome," McIlroy said ahead of Thursday’s opening round in Orlando.
"But I think just because it is a small list it would be just that bit cooler to join.
"It’s all about exposure and golf would be right in the centre of all sports stories if that were to happen, which is great for everyone involved in the game."
McIlroy, who tees off alongside reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman on Thursday, has made four previous attempts to complete his set of majors but come up short on each occasion.
And that doesn’t count McIlroy’s epic 2011 Masters collapse, where he led entering the final round but struggled to an 80 on Sunday and only finished in a share of 15th place.
However, the world number six believes he is more mentally attuned to the challenge of adding the Masters to his collection of four major titles.
"It has definitely taken me time to come to terms with the things I’ve needed to deal with inside my own head," McIlroy said.
"And I think sometimes I’m too much of a fan of the game because I know exactly who has won the Grand Slam, and I know exactly the people I would be putting myself alongside.
"So there’s maybe a part of that that, if I didn’t know the history of the game and I wasn’t such a fan, it would work in my favor.
"But that’s not me. It would be a massive achievement. It would be huge. But again, I can’t think about it in that way.
"I just have to go out and play the golf course the way I know that I can play it and hopefully that’s good enough to have the lowest score that week."
McIlroy also rejected suggestions that achieving the Grand Slam became more challenging each year with every missed opportunity.
"No, I’ve become more comfortable with it, I mean, the extra stress that I put myself under that first couple of years, 2015 and 2016, of trying to. I’ve become more comfortable with it," McIlroy said.
"I guess I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the fact that I’m going to fail more times than I succeed at that certain, whatever, conquest or whatever you want to call it.
"So I’ve become comfortable with the fact I’ve tried four times, I’ve failed. But Abraham Lincoln lost the first 13 elections he was ever in. He wound up being the President of the United States.
"So I still got a bit of time." — AFP