|Location: Augusta National Dated: April 8-11|
|Blanket: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sounds. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website from first practice to last putt over the four days. Daily highlights on BBC Two. Click for more details on coverage|
On Thursday at 3:42 p.m. BST, Rory McIlroy will resume his quest to enter golf’s most elite clubhouse: career Grand Slam winners.
McIlroy is used to being the star attraction of most tournaments, but in recent years the spotlight has shone the most on the Northern Irishman as he treads the pristine Augusta fairways.
There is no need to remind the world number 12 what a victory at this week’s Masters would mean.
But just to stress once again the importance: he would become just the sixth player in men’s football history to win a career Grand Slam.
Those who are already in the pantheon? Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
A quintet with 58 combined major triumphs.
If McIlroy were to finally conquer Augusta this week, he would be the first to achieve a career slam since Woods at the 2000 Open Championship in St Andrews.
And, speaking at his pre-Masters press conference on Tuesday, McIlroy revealed a vivid anecdote about how he got a new perspective after a recent meeting with Woods, who is recovering at his Florida home after his serious car accident in February.
“I went to Tiger’s a couple of weeks ago to see him and in his family room he has his trophy cabinet, 15 major trophies and I said, ‘That’s really cool, where are all the others? “McIlroy said.
“And he was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I’m like, ‘what? He said, “my mom has some, a few are in the office, a few are anywhere.”
“I would come home and think, ‘that’s all he cared about,’ so how easy it must have been for him to win over everyone else. It was just always on my mind, he talked about It’s the four weeks that matter, so the weeks that didn’t matter, he built them up to a pretty quick clip.
“I’m just thinking to myself, how easy it must have been for him if he only cared about four weeks a year. The other things had to be just like training. So that’s one. cool prospect to have, right?
“That’s all I could think of when I got home – and I was glad he was fine too!”
Five-time Masters winner Woods is recovering at home after colliding with a single vehicle in California in February, an accident that left the 15-time major champion with serious leg injuries.
And while McIlroy isn’t sure when Woods will return to battle, he believes the 82-time PGA Tour winner has the mental toughness to get through his recovery process.
“Anytime Tiger Woods goes into a golf tournament, it’s better,” added McIlroy. “It’s better for the tournament. It’s better for the players involved. It’s better for everyone.
“Unfortunately he’s not here this year. Hopefully if his recovery goes well, who knows, he might be back in 12 months. He’s always missed when he’s not playing in these big events and that doesn’t change. nothing at that week.
“I know he’s home and he’s fully focused on the recovery process and I feel like he’s mentally strong enough to go through that. Once he does, bones broken in the heel, and he just has to go step by step.
“I know he would love to be here, and I’m sure he’s going to do everything he can to be ready to play here next year.”
Earlier in his press conference, a typically thoughtful McIlroy spoke of staying focused on the “big picture” and how he feels at the start of a journey that he hopes will help him. to rediscover its ability to shine on the greatest stages of golf. .
Talking to Woods will certainly have helped in this department. Woods was always focused on the big picture, and to him that meant the majors, the most significant signposts of his own journey.