McIlroy To Take Tiger's Calm And Disciplined Approach At Augusta

Rory McIlroy says staying relaxed but keeping his discipline is the key for him to finally win the Masters and complete the career Grand Slam

Rory McIlroy at the 2023 Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Somehow managing to stay relaxed and playing with both freedom and discipline are what Rory McIlroy says are the keys to success at Augusta National - that would finally see him claim the Masters and fulfil the career Grand Slam.

It’s a calm but conservative approach following Tiger Woods' example that McIlroy feels will help him to claim the Green Jacket that has so far eluded him.

The Northern Irishman is making his ninth attempt to become just the sixth member of golf’s most exclusive club of players to have won all four Majors, and he admits that the enormity of the achievement and the atmosphere at Augusta have tightened him up in previous years.

The Masters ironically should have been McIlroy’s first Major after he coughed up a four-shot lead with a final-round 80 at the 2011 event, and he’s not really produced the goods since then - until last year’s scintillating final round 64.

And the 33-year-old says that trying to somehow bottle that relaxed mindset of last year’s Sunday is the key for him to succeed at Augusta.

“I was nine or 10 back of Scottie going into the last day and freewheeled and shot 64 and it would be great to have that feeling every single time you went out there and played," McIlroy said at Augusta. 

“It doesn’t quite work that way but the more I can get myself into the mindset, playing free, playing loose, not letting this place get you tentative, which it can do at times and what I’ve let it do to me over a number of years – yes, that’s the best way to get yourself around Augusta."

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at t he 2023 Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The four-time Major champion says that last year was the "first time I’d ever left Augusta happy" after that superb final round.

Holing out from the greenside bunker at 18 was a superb way to finish, but it was the round as a whole that he feels could be a key breakthrough for him.

"I felt like I broke a barrier for myself whether that was a perceived barrier or a mental one but I left Augusta really happy with myself and my performance for the first time in a long time," he told BBC Northern Ireland.

And after playing a Monday practice round with close friend Tiger Woods, McIlroy is keen to adopt the approach that led him to five and Jack Nicklaus to six Green Jackets - namely discipline.

"The course can really goad you into taking shots that you don't need to take on," McIlroy added. "And if you look at the two most successful players at Augusta, it's Tiger and Jack. They are the two most disciplined players in the history of our game.

"The one thing Tiger did really well at Augusta is discipline. Not taking on too much risk. Not getting ahead of yourself. That's the formula to do well at the Masters."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.