AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy knows better than to listen to what they say.
They say McIlroy will eventually win the Masters Tournament and they say once he wins one, he’ll win many more.
They said Phil Mickelson would win the U.S. Open and they said Colin Montgomerie would win at least one major. So, McIlroy isn’t putting much stock into them and what they say, even if they includes Mickelson himself, who said on Tuesday, “[McIlroy will] win and complete the Grand Slam. He's too great a player not to.”
“I'd like to think so,” McIlroy said, when told of Mickelson’s quote. “But, look, nothing's given in this game.
“I've always felt like I had the game to do well around here and to play well. It's just a matter of, you know, getting out of my own way and letting it happen."
That was something McIlroy was unable to do in his most recent start at the Zozo Championship, where he made 29 birdies and still finished T-17
On paper, McIlroy’s Augusta National results look good with top-10 finishes from 2014-18. But he’s really had only two legitimate chances to win: 2011, when he led through 63 holes before a Sunday, second-nine implosion; and 2018, when he was three off the 54-hole lead and in solo second place, but closed in 74.
This, of course, is a very different Masters. And all that entails could benefit McIlroy as he looks to add to his two Wanamakers, one claret jug and one U.S. Open trophy.
It’s November and there are no patrons.
Media and public are focused on and fascinated by Bryson DeChambeau.
Rory is a new dad and his wife and daughter are on site.
And, Augusta National will be playing soft, which should lead to lower scores. (McIlroy has never won an event in single digits under par.)
The signs point to McIlroy being able to contend this week, but McIlroy isn’t much for reading tea leaves. If he finally wins the green jacket, it won’t be because of assumptions and predictions, but because of what he describes as his “grit.”
“As I said, you have to go out and earn it. You can't just rely on people saying that you're going to win one," McIlroy said. "Greg Norman never did. Ernie Els never did. There are a lot of great people that have played this game that have never won a green jacket. It's not a foregone conclusion, and I know that. I have to go out and earn it and play good golf.”