It’s pouring rain at Augusta National Golf Club.
This is only the first of what is expected to be many rainstorms at this week’s Masters tournament. That means Augusta is going to play soft, and long.
And that has lots of people thinking that Rory McIlroy is going to win.
When McIlroy won the 2011 U.S. Open, it was on a rain soaked course in Washington D.C. His next major win — the PGA Championship — came at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. It was hit with heavy rainstorms that made the course soggy. Last year he won the Open Championship on a relatively wet Hoylake course. And then, his next major, the PGA at Valhalla was interrupted on the last day by rain storms.
McIlroy admits that he’s yet to prove he can handle a fast, firm, dry course under Major pressure.
“A firm and fast Augusta, or a typical U.S. Open setup, is probably the most difficult test for me,” McIlroy told Golf Digest writer Jaime Diaz. “It requires so much discipline and precision, and that’s something I’m still learning. I won a U.S. Open, but it was much wetter than normal, and even Hoylake was soft for a links. So if Augusta is fiery, winning there would get me closer to being a complete player, because I don’t think I’m there yet.”
The forecast is calling for a 50% chance of rain on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. If the course is soaked, it’s advantage McIlroy.
McIlroy is one of the longest hitters in golf. So, he’s going to be able to bomb his drives into a wet course. Shorter hitters will not be able to keep up. McIlroy also hits really high shots with his long irons. His high shots combined with soft greens will leave him in better birdie positions in a softer course.
Even if it wasn’t going to rain, McIlroy was favoured to win. He has won the past two majors. He has a win in Dubai this year. He’s ranked No. 1 in the world.
If he wins The Masters, it will complete a career grand slam, which puts him in elite company. Only Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tiger Woods, Gene Sarazen, and Gary Player have done it. Neither Phil Mickelson nor Arnold Palmer, two of the all-time greats ever did it. And McIlroy is only 25.
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