We analyse the pros and cons facing the Northern Irishman ahead of this year's Augusta showdown
Will Rory McIlroy Win The Masters?
Rory McIlroy comes into The Masters this year showing nothing like the sort of form you’d expect from a potential winner. But could that work in his favour as he bids to finally slip on a Green Jacket and win the one Major that has eluded him at the 13th time of asking?
We take a look at the four-time Major winner’s chances ahead of Augusta – the plus points and the minus points – as he attempts to become the first British golfer to win all of golf’s big four.
Still only 31 years of age, there is a strong argument to be made that Rory McIlroy is the best golfer of the current generation, especially on his day. But let’s not forget he hasn’t won a Major since the PGA Championship of 2014.
Since then, the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka have somewhat stolen the show.
However, the Northern Irishman will be doing everything in his power to put that right, and as a Green Jacket is the only piece of the jigsaw missing, the motivation couldn’t be greater.
As mentioned, the four-time Major winner isn’t coming into this year’s Masters tournament with any momentum, really. Not only has his he hit a slump in form, but he also enters this event having dropped outside the world’s top-10 for the first time since 2018.
Unsurprisingly then, he isn’t the bookies’ favourite, as defending champion Dustin Johnson tops that list.
The pressure will of course still be there, but without the huge build up, and with a winless run that stretches back to November 2019, you do get a feeling that he will not be under the usual intense spotlight.
If you were to design a golf course specifically for Rory McIlroy, it would look something like Augusta National.
This golfing treasure rewards the very best ball strikers capable of controlling their flight to access any flag on the course.
If he’s on, the quality of his ball striking will prevent him from facing too many of those typically unstoppable Augusta putts.
His powerful draw and naturally high flight are the ingredients that time and again make a Masters Champions.
This will be his 13th Masters tournament and he has picked up plenty of great experience in those years.
He knows how to play the course, where to miss and where to attack.
Related: How To Spot A Masters Winner
While the competition from the youngsters is extremely tough, Augusta really is a course where experience plays a huge part in victory.
That’s certainly a tick in his column.
While Rory drove down Magnolia Lane in fine form ahead of the 2019 and 2020 editions, it’s a different story this year.
Having been suckered in by Bryson DeChambeau’s escapades, he has developed a few untimely swing flaws in his quest to gain some unneeded yards.
A missed cut at the Players Championship and a group-stage exit from the WGC Matchplay certainly doesn’t represent the greatest preparation, but the 31-year-old skipped this week’s Valero Texas Open to get his game into a position where he has a chance to challenge.
He’s now officially working with Pete Cowen so it’ll be interesting to see if the pair can make significant inroads in such a short space of time.
While expectations of McIlroy won’t be what they often are ahead of this event, there’s no escaping what’s on the line every time he tees it up at Augusta.
We all know he’s more than capable of winning any tournament he enters, but the reward of clinching this one in particular does seem to have impacted his game in the past.
When in contention in 2018, for example, he played with eventual winner Patrick Reed in the final round and stumbled to a disappointing 74 (+2).
If he’s to become just the sixth man in history to complete the Career Grand Slam, he needs to somehow put that very thought to the deepest depths of his mind.
The 2011 Masters was a formative experience for Rory McIlroy.
He started the final round with the lead and, despite playing relatively poorly on the front nine, was still atop the leaderboard when he turned for home.
However, what happened next brought tears to the Northern Irishman’s eyes.
His long game dissolved and his score imploded on the greens. It was hard to watch.
That he put things right at the very next Major – the 2011 US Open – was hugely impressive but are there any Augusta demons still lingering.
Bad memories can take a long time to fade but it’s been a decade now since that infamous collapse. Will he ever recover? Time will tell.
If Rory has a weakness it lies with the flatstick. He is streaky.
When he is on, he can putt the lights out but he is outside the top-100 in SG: Putting on the PGA Tour this season.
At Augusta, the test on the greens is of course, severe.
The combination of speed and slope requires a confident, self-assured approach. If Rory’s belief in his own stroke wavers, the putts will slip by and so will his chances of a first Green Jacket.
More than six years have passed since he last lifted a Major trophy at Valhalla in August 2014.
Since then, he has had 11 top-10s in Majors but it’s hard to really pick out any that he genuinely had a chance to win come the 71st or 72nd hole.
He never gives up in the big events but he occasionally seems to shoot himself in the foot with a below-average round and three decent ones.
His 2014 PGA Championship win was a long time ago now and he’s played a lot of golf since, so let’s hope he can use his experience wisely.
Rory might have the edge in experience but younger players like Collin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Jon Rahm are serious Major contenders.
Morikawa won the PGA Championship in just his second Major and Matthew Wolff has finished T4 and 2nd in his only two Major starts.
Former World No 1 Jon Rahm looks ready to win his first, and players like Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau are all very tough to beat when playing well.
Granted, some may say that Rory is better than all of them but he’ll need to find his A-game.
So, will Rory McIlroy win The Masters this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via social media.