Expectant McIlroy eyes maiden Green Jacket

4/9/2013 4:38:00 PM
Rory McIlroy   (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

It is perhaps unsurprising that Rory McIlroy would consider anything less than victory at this week's Masters Tournament disappointing given he has scooped a Major Championship in each of the last two years.

The Ulsterman put some early season woes to one side last week and enjoyed a timely return to his best form when finishing second at the US PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open.

McIlroy subsequently cut a confident figure at Augusta National today, setting his sights on donning the famous Green Jacket on Sunday to expand a growing collection of golf's biggest prizes following US Open Championship and US PGA Championship victories in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

When asked if anything less than a win would be a disappointment, he paused before responding: "Yeah, it would be.

"Every time you come to Augusta you want to win the Green Jacket and every time you do not it is another chance missed.

"If I am sitting here on Sunday having finished second and having given it a good run you cannot be too disappointed, but the ultimate goal is to get one of those jackets.

"The main golf season is from April to the end of August (encompassing the four Major Championships) so that's when I want to play my best golf."

It was doubtless a great relief for many of the world's golf fans to see McIlroy, who recently relinquished top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking to Tiger Woods, looking increasingly assured last week.

The positives were certainly accentuated by the man himself, whose final round 66 would have been the tournament's joint best had Scotland's Martin Laird not delivered a quite brilliant course record 63 on Sunday to seal the title and his place at Augusta.

"I feel last week went really well, almost perfect," McIlroy added. "I got what I wanted out of it in terms of playing more competitive golf; a bonus was getting into contention and how I played then was pleasing.

"I chased Martin pretty hard and most Sundays a 66 is going to be enough; I just got beat by an unbelievable round."

While his two Major wins were undoubtedly special, McIlroy would doubtless hold a victory at Augusta even dearer given he considers the Masters his "favourite tournament".

"It is my favourite tournament of the year," he revealed. "Everyone knows that and I think it is for most guys; it is the one you look forward to the most.

"It (Augusta) is a special place. It's special to me; I do not know if I can explain it, but every time you drive in the gates here, it's a big thrill."

It would no doubt be a bigger thrill if McIlroy were to stand top of the leaderboard come Sunday evening; for a 23 year old with ultra-high standards, nothing less will suffice.