Bill Elliott hopes that Rory has seen the light

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QUESTION: When does a fanciful thought turn into something of a serious theory?

Turns out that, as far as Rory McIlroy is concerned. The answer just might be… halfway through the first round of the 2021 Masters. Scary, eh?

By then the Wee Man was a flurry of strokes over par.

This was not because he was unlucky. It was because on a very difficult course, his game was a pale imitation of the glory he used to bring to the biggest weeks before he was seduced by, among other things, Baron DeShampoo’s muscleman show.

Instead of ignoring this long-range stuff the Wee Man has tried to muscle up and speed up. Instead he has messed up.

 It’s not over for him at Augusta this week but it will take something very special to get him back towards the centre of things at this Masters and I’m afraid this special something is not available right now.

The really scary thought for Rory is that it may never again offer to embrace a player who once seemed blessed by the gods. I’ve seen this phenomenon before.

When Nick Faldo felt his legs go – as they say in football – the old Momentum Man lost his on-course pace quicker than a vaguely interested bystander could quietly as “ how old is Faldo now? “

Pete Cowen is a wonderful coach but even this straightforward Yorkshire man may not be able to help McIlroy.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that I am spectacularly wrong here because McIlroy in full, high-octane flight is a sight to behold and the rest of the time he is a man to like and admire.

Related: Latest Masters Leaderboard

Meanwhile, The Baron, many people’s idea of a very bright bloke, was swiftly showing he had learned nothing from the failure of his attempted Superman act back in November. Augusta National is not a theatre you bludgeon into submission, it’s a beauty that requires subtlety and a warm, appreciative embrace. So far your man is no hot date.

And finally, inviting your teenage son to caddy for you at a Masters is a very, very nice gesture. Unfortunately, it is not the considered action of a golfer who believes, really believes, he can win this week. And so it is proving. Pity.