AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy knows the potential significance of this Masters.

Once again, he’s got a shot at the career Grand Slam.

The Masters remains the only major championship to elude McIlroy, who has won the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. Only five players have captured all four of the modern major championships, making it one of golf’s most exclusive clubs.

McIlroy says he needs to “relish the opportunity that’s been put in front” of him, and then “go out and grab it.”

Amazingly enough, McIlroy nearly won his first major at Augusta National in 2011. He led after each of the first three rounds and was cruising, only to collapse on the back nine Sunday.

McIlroy says that experience made him “a better golfer, a better person.” Without the lessons learned that day, he doubts he would’ve had so much success.


While he hasn’t come as close to winning as he did seven years ago, McIlroy has always played well at Augusta National, finishing in the top 10 each of the last four years.

He comes into this year’s event off a win at Bay Hill, giving him plenty of confidence that this can finally be the year he finally breaks through.

Jordan Spieth admittedly felt a little panic last month at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Spieth shot a 6-over 76 in the opening round and missed the cut the following day.

“I made big strides in the last two weeks to get from kind of a panic place to a very calm, collected and confident place,” Spieth said.

Spieth believes he got off to a slow start in 2018 partly because he was sick for most of December. Taking a few lengthy flights in January didn’t help him recover. He missed the cut in Phoenix in early February and reached a low point – especially with his usually steady putter – in the Tampa Bay area two months later.

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