That year he came within a Sunday back-nine of victory at Augusta National. The par-three event, which takes place on the eve of the Masters, draws huge crowds and routinely features legends from the golfing past. History suggests the par-three winner never does likewise in the Masters proper.
McIlroy attracted attention in the past with his choice of caddie – his then fiancée Caroline Wozniacki in 2014 and the One Direction star Niall Horan last year. Now, he admits there is an element of “hassle” attached to the event which he would rather avoid before an attempt to claim the one major that has thus far eluded him. “It’s a bit of a distraction and the year I had my best chance at Augusta, 2011, I didn’t play the par-three contest,” McIlroy said. “So maybe the decision not to play it this year can work in my favour.”
McIlroy will play a practice round with the English pair Matt Fitzpatrick and Andy Sullivan, who will be making their Masters debuts. This marks the 26-year-old’s second bid to complete a Grand Slam of major championships. “I already feel a little more mellow and a lot more chilled compared to the all the hype around me a year ago,” McIlroy said.
“You have the attention spread between Jordan [Spieth] going back to defend, Jason Day winning for a second week in a row and also there’s Adam Scott who has won at Augusta before and is coming off his own back-to-back wins. So there’s a lot more going on around others competing in the Masters this year already than the spotlight I found myself in a year ago.”
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