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McIlroy faces test of character

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Iain Carter | 11:07 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

Augusta

Rory McIlroy untucked his shirt, tucked it back in again and, continuing to fidget, seemed unsure what to do next. His complexion was ashen and sweat poured from his brow as he prepared to tee off in the final group at a major for the first time in his young career.

On the range, the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland had laughed and joked with caddie JP Fitzgerald as he dispatched ball after ball with crisp accuracy.

But McIlroy was not ready to win a major. His nervous demeanour on that first tee was telling. The confidence of the first three days was no longer coursing through his veins.

When it came for his turn to tee off, he stepped forward and unleashed a massive drive that showed just how much adrenalin was pumping around his slim frame.

He wasn't even sure where it ended up. "Is it in the fairway?" he asked Fitzgerald. The caddie gave a quiet nod and, after playing partner Angel Cabrera had driven, McIlroy marched at pace in pursuit of his distant ball.

At the time, having stood feet from where all this happened, I was convinced that, now he was off and running, the apparent nervousness would be replaced by a sense of destiny and a confidence that he could continue his domination and get the job done.

Wrong. McIlroy's quickened step was, in fact, evidence that he was in the wrong place mentally. "He did everything more quickly than before in that final round," commented former PGA Tour player Andrew Magee in our coverage on BBC Radio 5 live. "He walked quicker and swung quicker. In the end, that leads to uncontrollable hooks."

McIlroy finds himself deep in trouble on the 10th. Photo: ReutersMcIlroy finds himself deep in trouble on the 10th. Photo: Reuters

Magee was referring to McIlroy's destructive tee shot at the 10th in particular, a shot that ended up amid Augusta's cabins way down the left side of the hole.

McIlroy had already endured a shaky front nine.

Three putts from just off the back of the first green was a worrying sign, coming moments after eventual champion Charl Schwartzel had chipped in for an opening birdie.

The South African then holed from the fairway for an eagle two on the third to wipe out McIlroy's overnight advantage, leaving the leader of the first three rounds under immense pressure.

Even so, a steadying birdie on the seventh meant that McIlroy went to the turn with a one-stroke lead. Then came the capitulation at the 10th, where he failed to realise that there was no need to panic after that fateful pull/hook off the tee.

This lack of clear thinking showed us that McIlroy is not yet ready to win a major. He immediately tried to push and was no longer prepared to play the percentages.

His second shot to the 11th set up a birdie chance, although 5 live pundit Jay Townsend was convinced the youngster had got lucky.

Once that birdie chance was missed, McIlroy might as well have been trying to putt with an umbrella. He missed the return and then miserably four-putted the 12th.

It was truly horrible to watch - but in the long run how ruinous?

McIlroy raises a smile as he walks off the 18th green with his caddieMcIlroy raises a smile as he walks off the 18th green with his caddie. Photo: Reuters

McIlroy is a fine golfer with the potential for greatness - those two facts remain intact despite his Masters disappointment.

Yes, this was the biggest major capitulation since Jean Van de Velde blew his five-stroke lead in the 1999 Open at Carnoustie but this was the first of surely many opportunities for McIlroy to land one of the game's biggest titles.

He is a man of fortitude and will need to be as he seeks to recover from this setback. He has the game and seems to have the capacity to learn from his errors.

We all have our own theories why it went wrong at Augusta but only he knows. He must not chastise himself for messing up but seek to grow stronger for the experience.

Easier said than done but this was only his 10th major appearance. With hindsight, the victory so many anticipated was too much to expect from someone who has won only two Tour titles to date.

What McIlroy must do is learn the art of winning at Tour level in the way that Schwartzel has done. The South African already has six wins to his name.

Interestingly, Schwartzel is a young winner of a Green Jacket at 26. Yet he is still five years older than McIlroy.

Time is on the side of the Northern Ireland youngster but there is an urgent need to put this crushing defeat behind him, to enjoy his golf, compete and win tournaments.

If he doesn't, it could ultimately lead to the squandering of what remains a massive talent with boundless potential.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Yes I thought he looked a bit frazzled from the off - if he were a horse and the first tee the paddock, my money wouldn't have gone anywhere near. Unfortunately I'd already backed him - at end of day one and again yesterday morning. Ah well.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good article,
    "McIlroy's quickened step was, in fact, evidence that he was in the wrong place mentally. "He did everything more quickly than before in that final round," commented former PGA Tour player Andrew Magee in our coverage on BBC Radio 5 live. "He walked quicker and swung quicker. In the end, that leads to uncontrollable hooks."
    "Magee was referring to McIlroy's destructive tee shot at the 10th in particular, a shot that ended up amid Augusta's cabins way down the left side of the hole."

    Was it really that destructive though? As Justin Rose commented last night you have to flirt with the trees if you want to be aggressive and as you noted, a yard or 2 to the right and he may have been fine. And after a poor result for the Ulster rugby lads, he had the weight of a nation on his shoulders.

    Let's not be too harsh on Rors though, he is an amazing player at 21. He is in the worlds top 10, has won on both major tours and was on the winning side of the Ryder Cup.

    The next 3 majors are going to be very, very interesting :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Unfortunately McIlroy did not and does not currently have the Mental toughness which Tiger possessed when he won his first Green Jacket at 21 back in 1997. As the competition in World Golf increases over the next decade, McIlroy will be lucky if he matches Nick Faldo (at 6) in terms of the number of Major wins in might win in his career.

  • Comment number 4.

    McIlroy is young enough to cope with this setback and will come back the wiser and stronger for it. It would have been amazing had it seen it through and sort of makes one appreciate/realise what an achievement it was for Woods all those years ago!

  • Comment number 5.

    Iain

    Good blog.

    Watching in all fall apart last night was a horrible experience as a big fan of Rory. I think your points are probably correct in terms of the undoubted nervousness about him, but a large part of it I felt boiled down to the fact that he really didn't get much of a break in the whole round.

    I think if he'd had a wee bit of good of good fortune early on he might just still have done it, as it was with others around him putting the pressure on instantly it was all just a bit too difficult.

    I'm sure his time will come.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think it is easy with hindsight to say he looked nervous from the off. He didn't. He looked good on the practice range. He looked fine on the first tee. He blasted a first drive. His second shot to the first was ok, a little unlucky but found the back edge.

    It was the putting which cost him. Missed putt on the first and suddenly the lead was down to 2 and then the nerves may have kicked in.

    But analyse rory's round carefully. Tee to green (2nd hole aside) he was ok for the first 9. It was putting that cost him. Even the shot into the bunker face owed more to club choice that the swing.

    He was already out of contention by the time his swing went to pot ... that owed more to being clearly distraught that his dream was unravelling than his having been nervouse from the off.

    It is, I believe, lazy journalism to say he wasn't ready and was obviously nervous from the start.

  • Comment number 7.

    As sorry as I was to see the young star fail to win his first major, I would like to remind people this is the third time this has happened to Rory. The first was at the Omega in Switzerland then at the Open last year and now this W/End. Common denominator is 2 fold his caddie is not worth his wage and he can`t putt.Before anyone thinks this is hindsight I posted on 606 just after the swiss debacle both these points and I am afraid until he gets a better team behind him and not just chase the dollar he will be sergio mark 2 forever

  • Comment number 8.

    I hope it doesn't affect him too much, but the truth is he doesn't have the game to win at the Masters. The same can be said of all the British players save Luke Donald. Basically none of them are good enough putters. End of story. Why the various commentators didn't point this out, even in the mildest terms, is almost as frustrating as watching Lee "putting for birdie" Westwood miss again.

    The good news is that McIlroy and Westwood were knocking it past the hole rather than leaving it short, so in theory they just need to get their reads right and take off a touch of pace. However, we all know it doesn't work like that in golf.

    Some might say that McIlroy got to a four stroke lead without sinking too many putts, he just needed to keep that mental fortitude. But missing birdie chances wears you down and fragility of this type will always be found out. Schwartzel got lucky at 1st and 3rd, but he finished with four straight birdies, single putts all I think (maybe 2 putts on 15) with a hot putter that had served him well all day.

    Haven't seen the stats, but I expect Schwartzel had around 23/24 putts, Westwood must have been mid-30s, McIlroy perhaps 40 or so. Obvious what needs to happen, much harder to achieve, hope one or both can deliver!

  • Comment number 9.

    One thing that's not been mentioned throughout all of this, was his caddie. At the start of the coverage one of the pundits mentioned that he needed to act as a psychiatrist to get him through, yet he was clearly missing when Rory needed him the most. His two collapses in majors have been spectacular, but perhaps a more experienced, major-winning, caddie might have stopped the wheels falling off? Perhaps it's time for Rory's management to take a long look at the man on the bag?

  • Comment number 10.

    All fair enough, Iain, until the Van de Velde bit. What???
    Rory hits in the trees on #10 and it's a Ven de Velde moment? Please.

    Rory's disintegration might have cost him a high finish but, in the end, it didn't cost him the Green Jacket. Schwartzel well and truly won it, going ahead and stamping his foot on the metaphoric necks of the rest of the field.

    Rory doesn't need to learn how to win. I was at Quail Hollow (a Major Championship course only 150 miles to the north) last May when Rory announced himself to a disbelieving American audience, in a style even more emphatic than Charl's yesterday.

    Perhaps he'll learn that the heat of a Major is at a different level entirely but to suggest that Rory has to "learn the art of winning at Tour level" is arrant nonsense.

    Great week Rory, it all came unravelled in the end but you've learned a lot and thrilled millions. (Clearly not Iain Carter though.)

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't think it's too helpful when some people seem to have the visionary powers to be able to say that McIlroy and British players will never win the Masters because they can't putt, or they wear the wrong clothes or their hair is the wrong colour.

    As anyone who has played will tell you, golf is one of those games where you can be on fire one day and be a damp squib the next.

    McIlroy had one of those days yesterday where yes, he probably did get the jitters, but sometimes when you also don't get the breaks there's no amount of putting ability that is going to save you.

    Whether he will win a major, no one knows, he may not or he may beat Nicklaus's record - we just simply don't know.

    What is clear is that he is a real talent, he's good for golf and he may inspire younger players not matter what.

    I'm playing in my first comp this Thursday - I may tear up the course or I may fail dismally, sometimes golf can be cruel - but that's why I love it.

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree Ian - Rory did look nervous and as pointed out did things much faster than normal. I think being paired with Cabrera did not help - Rory would have been better with somebody he could have had some banter with which would have made him relax more

    Perhaps the media have "built" Rory up too quickly - after all ,as you say he has only won twice in more than 100 tournaments . No doubt he has supreme potential but remember Sergio who showed fantastic potential but as yet has not delivered one major ( though i accept he has been extremely close on a number of occasions )

    As many times before the Masters came down to the final 9 holes - Rory self-destructed and Scwartzel reeled off 4 birdies in the final four holes to win - Awesome

  • Comment number 13.

    One of the BBC TV commentators said that he did not watch reality TV as there was more reality in sport - this was as McIlroy made yet another mistake and looked in complete despair. It was a capitulation from an exceptional young player that was heartbreaking and, as a spectator, highly emotional.
    I hope he listens to the words of Greg Norman (also highlighted on BBC TV) in his press conference after he capitulated to Nick Faldo 15 years ago and has the friends, colleagues and strength of character to bounce back quickly - he certainly has the ability.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with a lot of the comments regarding Mclroy feeling overawed/nervous by the madnitude of the task ahead but as a lot of comments are saying he was still in position after nine holes albeit with his confidence frayed. A lot of great major winners kick it over the line by playing bad and toughing it out. My main concern is the caddie. Mclroy chose to hit driver off every tee. There was no need to chase he could have plotted his way to victory by sensible club selections. The minute you chase a score in golf, invariably mistakes materialise. A stronger caddie would have dealt with a lot of the negative momentum. Perhaps he needs someone not so closely connected to camp Mclroy, not a yes man ?

  • Comment number 15.

    His time will come... he's too good a player not to win lots of majors... he'll learn from this and come back stronger... cliche-tastic stuff. If he was older he'd be facing some fierce criticism I fancy, with fans and hacks alike jumping on his back saying he's bottled it, he not got what it takes etc. etc.

    Reminds me a lot of Garcia 10 or so years ago - everyone was saying he will DEFINITELY win a major some day soon. Same with Murray and the tennis. People are now doubting these two aren't they?

    Age is a smokescreen to what was a worrying capitulation. This was an opportunity McIlroy should've taken no matter how old he is. It wasn't his first time leading a major, he's not 250 in the world and found himself in unchartered territory, he may well be only 21, but this was no flash in the pan.

    Rather than make him stronger, this may well have knocked his undoubted confidence.

    Having said all of that... he seems an incredibly well rounded individual who is thoroughly pleasant and I hope he proves me wrong by winning 20 majors.... honestly! Just saw a lot to worry me for his future at the top end of the sport.

  • Comment number 16.

    It was sad to watch Rory fall apart like that but it's so easy to forget he's only 21. How many 21 yr olds have led for 3 rounds of a major? Most would just be 'gaining experience' at this stage of their careers. Think of where he could be in 5 years time... when he's as old as Schwartzel is now.

    As for Schwartzel, well he no longer has to feel left out when Ernie hosts one of his Saffa 'braais' at Wentworth with Goosen, Immelman and Oosthuisen.

  • Comment number 17.

    Some fair points have been made about the past performances, the Open, Omega and even his debut win in Dubai where a 6 shot lead was 'nearly' thrown away.

    All fair enough, but you have to remember this guy is only 21 years old. I was still living in my parents house with a whole lot of learning still to do. I had no idea about how to handle myself back then, in fact am still learning today as experience really has no substitute.

    Putting it all into context, it was a phenomenal achievement and if he does take the learnings from it, this can only serve him well the next time he is in the same position.

    Eduardo Molinari tweeted after missing the cut, that you learn more from losing than you do from winning and he was going to spend the weekend practising his weaknesses.

    Overall, cheers for a great Masters Rory, the best one for years in my opinion, I was on the edge my seat so much I made some non conforming grooves in it!

  • Comment number 18.

    Jason Day is only 18 months older than Rory and he had a couple of occasions that he could have slid away but held on and showed great resolve down the stretch.
    Credit to him in his 1st Masters as he seemed to thrive under the pressure.

    Not a great week for the U.S again and now all 4 majors are out of the countrty .

    I am not a big Tiger Woods fan but even I got a bit excited at his charge on the final day .
    I know its tough to take when it all goes wrong in 9 holes but please take the time to read full leader board and see who he finished ahead of. Nobody will be talking about them

  • Comment number 19.

    Responding to 11 - George

    I didn't say that Brits can't putt, I said they weren't good enough putters. Never mentioned hair or clothes! And I don't claim visionary powers either - the evidence is there already and acknowledged by the players - see Westwood and Poulter interviews.

    Like you, I play golf and I know some days you're off and others you're on. That's one of the fascinations. But you can't rely on your putter getting hot, you have to be able to warm it up. That kind of ability is what makes these guys professionals.

    Rory did have a couple of bad breaks - you can't expect to be in position A1 after snap-hooking it. But of the 17 shots he took at 10, 11 & 12 yesterday, 9 were putts. I know it's not as simple as that, but if you know you haven't got the short game to recover it, you push the rest too hard and the wheels come off quicker ...

    Be assured, there's nothing I'd like more than Rory or Lee or any other Brit to win major after major, but without above average putting they won't. Simple as. See the interview with Lee Westwood after his round. That's effectively what he said.

  • Comment number 20.

    Agree with 9. An experienced caddy would have calmed him down playing on the 10th and told him to play the percentages. That said, given Schwartzel's unbelievable run of birdies and two outrageous chip-ins, this one was probably too much for McIlroy, meltdown or not.

  • Comment number 21.

    I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that in top class sport, mentally you have either got it or you haven't. Age and experience never got Monty over the major line. Nor has it seen Westwood or Garcia get to the promised land. And similarly, a lack of age and experience never stopped Woods or Ballesteros.

    I seriously doubt that McIlroy is made of the right stuff. His 3 foot putt for what should have been his first European Tour title never even touched the hole, and his 80 at the Open when leading last year show his frailty at the top table.

    He is just human. 99.9% of us would crumble under the pressure and expectation. That's why major winners get a place in sporting history - because they don't.

  • Comment number 22.

    Interesting blog Iain. I agree with post 9 about the caddie as after the 10th hole he seemed to have accepted that Rory had accepted defeat. I think also what is key to this is that if a golfer in the lead on the final day aims for a score for example a lot of pundits felt a round of 70 would clinch it with how the course and the players were playing. This can also unsettle the most experienced golfer. If you go back to The US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 when Lee Westwood lead going into the final round and played a very tentative last round which cost him the title as he almost 2 putted every hole. Rory did look very quick in everything he done and any sportsman that changes their routine will almost certainly come undone. I think Rory has it in him to bounce back from this.

  • Comment number 23.

    Look, nearly every major has someone "melting down". Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney are just two recent names that come to mind. Rory is just the latest of these.

    What is significant is that few meltdowners come back to win a major. Its doubtful whether the experience is a good one because when in the same situation again, you can only draw on the memory of the bad experiences. And given you didn't overcome them, its difficult to say that you will again. In fact, when in the same situation, you are probably in a worse position than some first-time contender who hasn't blown up.

    But pure class oftens comes through in the end (Norman) and hopefully Rory has that.

  • Comment number 24.

    21 - Edders38

    This is the dark fear I have for Rory in that you might be correct.

    However examples such as Mickelson, VJ Singh and even Jenson Button who all got better mentally with age keeps the fears at bay for now, but your opinion is the elephant in the room, no doubt.

  • Comment number 25.

    It feels as though the course wins every time at Augusta and it is the course who chooses the winner. You must not be too timid nor too arrogant or it will bite you.
    Rory is not the first top class Golfer to shoot 80 and he won't be the last. To shoot it on the final day having done so well in the first three makes it a cruel twist that will take some getting over.

  • Comment number 26.

    I think that a couple of things that have been missed by most is his playing partner, and also the effect of Woods' climb up the board. Rory played the first three days with his mates almost, Fowler on day 1 & 2, Day on all three days, nice jokey relaxed atmosphere - all boys together. Day still had that to a degree on Sunday, playing with Scott - a close friend. Rory had a tough old bird in Cabrera - very different atmosphere and seemingly no banter to keep the mind off things. As for Woods, you can't avoid the leader boards completely as you go round, nor the roars from the crowd. The impact of suddenly seeing Tiger, in almost his back yard, eat up your lead by his turn. That inevitably would make you force the pace a little and tighten up. Interesting to note that long after Rory's chance, Scott, Schwartzel, Scott, van Pelt, Donald etc started making birdies when Tiger was off the course.

    I don't buy the inevitable Murray comparisons. The vast majority of players in all sports have to learn how to win the Majors or World Titles. Players with god given talent to come and win immediately are very few and far between. Djokovic lucked into a Slam then struggled and gradually improved over time to be the force he is this year. Oosthuizen could be similar - his competition at St Andrews self destructed and allowed him to stroll along playing safe, focused, par golf for the most part. Whether he will get a Major when the field is after him is another thing.

    McIroy, like Murray I believe, will win a major or two or more, folks over here mature later and both have many years at the top table to look forward to.

  • Comment number 27.

    Re: his history under pressure, McIlroy also put his approach into a greenside bunker, and failed to get out of it first time, on the 18th in his crucial Singles match at last year's Ryder Cup. (Luckily for him - and Europe - opponent Stewart Cink's short putting had also gone to pot.) I don't remember any criticism/questioning of his shot choice/bottle at the time - it was lost in the overall victory furore.

  • Comment number 28.

    "We all have our own theories why it went wrong at Augusta but only he knows." Please share your opinions/theories about what went wrong?! While an interesting article, I would be interested to hear about why you think Rory lost it. Thanks!

  • Comment number 29.

    I'd backed him at 28-1 before the start but after the opening 65, it reminded me of lasy years Open, when Rory led for the first 2 rounds and capitulated. He also led a big US tournament later in the year and blew that early lead also. So saying he will learn from this is not straight forward, he's clearly got issues when the pressure starts to heat up. Its not a technical coach he needs, all the talent is there, he should get a psychology coach before the damage becomes irrevocable

  • Comment number 30.

    I think that the disappointing final round came from indecision. A four shot lead - do you defend or try to stretch? And even if you decide to do one or other, the core thing about golf is that your body does not always do what it is told. Rory may well have decided to continue to play as in the first three rounds, but his mind and body got out of sync. His iron on the first was the initial sign, while it looked like he was going for it, the shot itself was less than aggressive. It is the nature of the game- we tell ourselves to keep our head down and swing slowly - then lash at it while looking to see where it has gone.

  • Comment number 31.

    he is 21. ok he is a professional sportsman and has to take the rough with the smoot. but, come on, between 1900 and 1940 last night, the beeb dedicated heaven knows how much resource to getting us to believe that rory was about to walk in the footsteps of woods and nicklaus. then when he 'failed' all the naysayers appear. R5 this morning at 6 headlined with 'from roar to whimper'. doesnt this so-called worldclass broadcaster have some responsibility to help our talent develop rather than assault someone who is brave enough to give it a go. Rory i hope you develop and win.

  • Comment number 32.

    Can he ever overcome the nervousness when the going gets a bit rough? The meltdown on the 10th, then the 4 putt were almost comical. Can't remember seeing a top sportsman fall apart that badly and so obviously in all my years of watching sport. We all know people who have had similar problems their whole lives, when the pressure is on. I know he's a top professional, but would definitely be something to be worried about. Sports psychologist clearly in order, although he probably already has 1.

  • Comment number 33.


    Rob Hodgetts | BBC Sport | 03:29 UK time, Sunday, 10 April 2011


    Golf could be set for a changing of the guard at Augusta on Sunday.

    To McIlroy's generation, Woods is the icon, the man they watched as kids, the man who changed the sport. They could be about to get their own icon.

    Augusta is gearing up to crown a new young master on Sunday night.



  • Comment number 34.

    He should get in touch with Andy Murray and they can try to work it out between them what goes wrong.

  • Comment number 35.

    Another Major and another random winner. What is going on? We seem to be getting new Major winners every other time one comes round now, this just shows how open these tournaments are. It also shows that the guard has changed. Ernie Els no longer seems to be able to compete at these majors for starters. As for Phil Mickelson, his mistake was playing last week. Why play the week before a major, yeah it keeps your game sharp but a major week is long. The same goes for Lee Westwood. I think this tournament proved that players should in general not play the week before a Major.

    Anyway, Rory was just nervous, he did not feel mentally ready to win. Charl has much less pressure as nobody expected him to win but showed great strength in the final hurdle. As for Adam Scott, he could of taken it, but how much did he want it? The smiles near the end suggested a lack of inner belief and determination to win and the same I feel has to be said for the excellent Luke Donald. And Tiger Woods? He could and would of won a few years ago, but be bottled it on the back nine, the inner demons stopped him sinking 3 or 4 more birdies and i'm not sure he can regain that inner belief to win lots more Majors. No doubt he'll win at least 2 or 3 more though.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re putting comment earlier and before anyone else corrects me!

    Putts final round: Donald 22, Schwartzel 28, Westwood 28, McIlroy 35.
    Putts tournament: Donald 102, Schwartzel 107, Westwood 116, McIlroy 124.
    Greens in regulation: McIlroy 75%, Schwartzel 68%, Westwood 64%, Donald 57%.

  • Comment number 37.

    Writing an article with hindsight, now there's some skill. What a load of rubbish mush.

    Rory has the game, and will be a multiple major winner, and has well and truely proven himself with a great Quail Hollow victory last year. Of course when He does win this article you've written would have never existed as yesterdays rediculous article will be slipped through the electronic shredded. Why is Rob Hodgetts not writing this piece? LMAO

    So he got nervous with a four shot lead trying for his first masters........shame on him. I'm sure there were more of you Brits/Irish nervous at home than He was, but I'm sure you could have done better.

    I wasn't rooting for Rory yesterday, but up until the 10th I could still see him puting the green jacket on. Even after he carded a 7 he wasn't out of it. Unfortunately he thought he was and the rest is history.

    As far as his putting is concerned, did any of you watch any other days of the Masters. How do you think he got a four shot lead. Rory is a great putter make no mistake.

    Talk about missing easy putts on Sunday to lose the green jacket. Yep that's right Tiger.

    The Brits tall poppy syndrome will get you all the time.

  • Comment number 38.

    Like a lot of contributors, and as Rory himself said in his interview, I believe it was ultimately his putting that cost him the Green Jacket.....and not only during the final round. Rory was bogey free and 10 under after 27 holes. Over the back nine on Friday I reckon he missed at least 5 ten foot putts, and most of them on the 'amateur' or low side, thus also finishing the day ten under. I know you can't sink them all (after all Tiger topped the 3 putt stats!) but I think this started to play on his mind. On Saturday he was over par early on but dug deep to post a creditable 70, although again closer analysis reveals that of the three birdies on his back nine two were 2 putt birdies on the par 5's and the other was the tramliner on 17; where my guess is he was just trying to get it dead.
    So Sunday came and yes he was nervous and the swing was a bit quicker, hence the pulled wedge at the first, but I think it was the state of his putting not ball striking that was to the forefront of those nerves; and lo and behold he missed a four footer for par, on the low side (and nearly did the same at the second!). His ball striking was for the most part exemplary; I can't recall any other player from the top groups hitting the long par three fourth, he effectively reached the eighth in two and was again only 10 feet away and putting for birdie at the ninth. But the pressure the rest of his game was being put under by his putting was growing and growing and......then you hit the back nine on Sunday at the Masters playing in the final group. And it leads to meltdown. Having hacked his way down ten he played 11 brilliantly until he got hold of his putter; he hit the 12th (Luke Donald would have paid very good money for that tee shot) but then kept hitting it with his putter like a kid playing crazy golf. It was only then that, with a completely scrambled brain, his swing started to match his putting. I don't know where he ended up in the putting stats but I bet if you look at the last 45 holes he was pretty much on a par with, or worse than, Messrs Poulter and Westwood.
    So I don't overall consider that the swing failed him or that he was too aggressive on the final day especially as it was the same game plan that had got him into the winning position he would have snatched your hand off for on Thursday morning. Perhaps he did need a stronger caddie at times to tell him to slow it all down a bit but as most of us who play the silly game know if you've lost confidence with the putt

  • Comment number 39.

  • Comment number 40.

    So much utter tripe being posted here. Rory will hurt and will probably have a few lean weeks. But he will come back, he will win this year and he will contend in majors again, maybe even this year.

    Let's look at precedents to support this. Dustin Johnson, an inferior player to Rory, had a 3 shot lead going into the final round at the US Open last year, only to then capitulate with a mind-numbing 82. A mere 7 weeks later he had got his head together sufficently to all but win the PGA Championship, but for a harsh ruling that ultimately cost him. Even after that soul destroying experience, one which most players would not come back from, he won a big event, the BMW championship, in the end of season FedEx Cup playoffs.

    Another one. Nick Watney, again inferior to Rory, had a 3 shot lead going into the final round at the PGA. He shot a crowd-pleasing 81. A few months later he wins the WGC at Doral, ok not a major, but the next best thing with a very similar field.

    Rory will be fine. A few shots cost him, a his putting definitely needs work. What the cameras didn't show after the 12th last night was his brilliant long game continued, he had shortish birdie putts at 14, 16 and 18. To be able to swing at all, let alone hit that quality of approach shots, after the nightmare from 10 to 12 is testament to his genius ability with a golf club.

    I agree his caddie needs firing though. Useless. Should have had a few words for him after the 12th but there was nothing. Boot him into touch and bring in someone with major winning calibre.

  • Comment number 41.

    Rory won Quail Hollow from behind, when he wasn't expected to win, thus less pressure and his game held together. He doesn't seem yet to have the mental strength to lead from the front and his putting is definitely suspect. It was good putting that gave the title to Schwartzel yesterday. When Rory bogied the first hole I thought that it wasn't going to be his day and so it proved. A pity, since 3 birdies or an Eagle and a birdie was all that he needed to win it.

  • Comment number 42.

    Mental fortitude is all well and good but unless you are a good putter you're going to struggle. Langer was a superb iron player but only when he was in command of the putter could he land majors. Faldo the same. At his best, he was a superb putter. You can't shoot low in the final round without holing a good number of yards on the greens. Woods the same. For all the laughing at his long game over the last 12 months, he could always be found in the trees even in his pomp. Woods lost yesterday because when he got it going and started applying pressure, his putter let him down. Why did Monty never win? Why hasn't Westwood? On the greens, they are just not up to it. Pre-tournament, everyone knew Rory's weakest club is the putter. Even DJ Chris Evans said pre-final round that McIlroy hadn't holed much. Kaymer has a major because he can putt when it matters. Same for McDowell. Neither of their long games can hold a candle to McIlroys, but 'drive for show...'. Eurpoe's best putter, Luke Donald, was our closest contender yesterday on a course which due to his lack of length does not suit him, and yet he still finished high by putting superbly. Donald is far more likely to win a major than RM at this point. Give the lad a break regarding over-hyping his potential and lets see if he can improve his putting to a level that won't heap pressure on his long game which anyone can see is great. Westwood hasn't managed it and, at his age, probably never will. Lets hope its not the same for young Rory.

  • Comment number 43.

    9. At 15:20pm 6th Apr 2011, You wrote:
    ...
    I've gone with 5 E/W bets this year:
    Kim, 40-1 (lowest average scoring round the course, albeit with only 2 appearances, plus wins on this type of grass)
    Kaymer, 22-1 (because he's just damn good - even though no current world no.1 has won it besides Tiger)
    Westwood, 16-1 (because Majors are all he seems to be focused on and his recent Major finishes warrant an EW, plus we share a surname :P)
    Cink, 100-1 (gotta have an outsider and at the masters he has to be American with their record)
    and finally... Schwartzel, 80-1 (on a hunch).
    ...
    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/iaincarter/2011/04/ignore_young_americans_at_your.html#comments)

    Not gonna lie I'm pretty happy with that hunch (particularly as everyone else let me down big time besides Westy)!!

    I thought it was a fantastic Masters, I was getting texts off many mates who couldn't give two hoots about golf that were glued to the TV.. Mostly due to Rory's excellent performance of the first 3 days. He'll be back and his superb reaction to it will have made him many more fans as well. Manners / Grace cost nothing, take note Tiger.

    The questions put to the players by the CBS pundits who lean over to get their face in the camera shot just made me cringe though!

    Great week, well covered by the beeb (even if you were 2 days short :P).

  • Comment number 44.

    This may be a silly comment and it may even be against golf rules, but couldn't his best pal and experienced Major winner Graeme McDowell have taken over caddy duties or stepped up to give some advice during play?

  • Comment number 45.

    Sport at the top end is great to watch but can also be incredibly cruel.I was willing Rory McIlroy to step up to the plate and win his first major title but ended up watching through closed fingers the mental disintegration of an immensely likeable young man.Will he recover and win a major title/titles,who knows?What I do know is that he showed immense courage with his post tournament interview and if he does come back stronger I for one will be cheering.By the way what has happened to Sam Torrance on the beeb?

  • Comment number 46.

    Loved watching Rory fall to pieces and crumble under the pressure. Cannot stand him from his comments or remarks he had about Tiger. Once again loved every grueling minute of that pathetic 80 that landed him nothing lol.

  • Comment number 47.

    What's even more worrying is McDowell's form - missed cut, has he had his peak and is now just enjoying the fruits it brings? Not being picky here but he certainly looked like he's been enjoying himself off the course lately.

  • Comment number 48.

    I think a main factor for Rory was that he played the first three rounds with players of similar age and attitude. They seemed to gel very well together and brought the best out in each other. On Sunday this wasn't the case, no disrespect to the wonderful Angel Cabrera, but he needed to feel comfortable when the wheel started to come of. Jason Day was very lucky to be playing with a fellow Aussie and friend in Adam Scott and I think this eased the pressure for both of them hence they played well even though they both had a hiccup or two.

  • Comment number 49.

    An interesting article and some very interesting comments. I have to agree that his caddy did not give him the necessary support just when RM needed it. His putting leaves a lot to be desired, however it can be improved if he is willing and has the patience to take a step back and work on this area of his game.There is a very interesting article regarding development of the "Quiet Eye". If he were to follow this procedure he would improve his putting skills tremendously. I know because I have done it and it works. However it demands time, patience and lots of practice. It all depends on willingness to improve.

    http://www.howtobreak80.com/articles/sink-more-putts-with-the-quiet-eye.php

  • Comment number 50.

    To say it's "Lazy Journalism" is stupid. I and my son had the same thoughts as Iain Carter when Rory was on the first tee. And Jay Townsend summed it up perfectly. To me, he just didn't seem right. And once he had made a few errors on the front nine, the writing was on the wall. I feel for Rory, I really do, it must have been a nightmare to endure the fact that he wasn't playing well and the others around him were all on a roll. The pressure got to him and, as any golfer will tell you, your putting goes to pot. He needs to sort himself out mentally as soon as he can because the next time he's in the lead with nine holes to play, the memories will fill his mind and he'll capitulate again.

    Rich,

    I'd forgot about that. It doesn't bode well for the poor lad, does it?

  • Comment number 51.

    Comments about his caddie being rubbish are spot on here, he was nowhere when Rory was obviously feeling the heat. He needed an arm around the shoulder when the breaks weren't going his way. Didn't see any of that on the coverage, they looked like strangers and his caddie dibn't seem bothered...!!!

    Also when Rory was playing with Jason Day for the first three days they were chatting and joking, keeping it light. With not much dialogue between him and Angel his caddie should have done the same as it all just looked too much for Rory on the final day.

    His mgt team won't have noticed too much either, 'Chubby' Chandler too busy congratulating one of his other runners......Charl Schwartzel.

  • Comment number 52.

    What is the point of Hazel Irvine?

  • Comment number 53.

    At least he showed spirit and guts. He also came close to winning and looked like he was going to win until near the end. As an Englishman I have to say he compares well against our current crew of hopeless English players. I can say that we have probably the biggest group of excellent English players in my lifetime. But, I can say with certainty that none of them will ever win a major. Let us face the facts, does anybody think that any of the following players will ever win a major: Rose, Westwood, Donald, Casey, Poulter, Fisher, Khan . . .

  • Comment number 54.

    there is no point in hazel irvine, just as there was no point in the pointless sam torrance.

    mcilroy will find it difficult to recover from this loss, westwood once led the masters coming into amen corner, had a quick panic and hasn't looked like he will ever win a major. there are many british players who have flattered to deceive in this way.

  • Comment number 55.

    I hope the likes of Rory and Poulter now appreciate Tiger Woods' achievements and give him the respect his due before they sleight him in interviews. Let your golf do the talking gents.....

  • Comment number 56.

    My view of Rory's collapse is the fact that he held the lead for so long at the tournament. It is so much easier to come from behind in a major than to hold a lead going into the last day. What pressure was Schwartzel or the other contenders under coming to the last round. Yeah, "if we have a really low round we will be in contention" but the same monumental expectations were not there. Rory's problem was that he led the tournament for too long

  • Comment number 57.

    quite astounding comments from some readers. Whether they are avid golf watchers or players is open to question. We are talking about a 21yr old Kid here people. To actually be in contention on the final day of any major is phenomenal as it is. Every great player has off days. Pressure or no pressure it wasnt meant to be for Rory yesterday. He will bounce back no doubt, he will win majors, he will contend in many golf tourneys for years to come.

    Give the guy a break for heavens sake.. look at the seasoned, experienced players who missed the cut to start with.. look who didnt even feature all week and then take your hats off to Rory Mcilroy and admire his talent as an incredible sportsman and gentleman who tries his best each time he steps on the golf course!!

  • Comment number 58.

    #53 - Agree in principle but I think Donald has a reasonable shot.

  • Comment number 59.

    I feel sorry for McIlroy because ultimately he is a victim of his own success. It's incredible in the first place to be even winning the Masters by 4 shots at any stage, never mind an inexperienced 21 year old. Sure, he may have choked it but he wasn't be the first and won't be the last. Watney and Johnson demonstrated last year how difficult it is to close it out with a big lead, and how you can recover from it when you're still young.

    What McIlroy needs to do now is finish off and win a smaller European Tour event to give him confidence to go into the Majors. He's won twice in his career so far, in Dubai it was a stumble to the line and Quail Hollow was a win from nowhere without any pressure. He needs to win more regular events, winning breeds confidence.

    His putting stroke was appalling throughout the week. It's a testament to how well he played tee to green in the opening three rounds that he was winning by 4. Every drive was down the middle 350 yards almost, every iron and wedge was pure precision to that 10-15 foot range. This is not realistic golf though and you will rarely see this in under pressure final round golf. That's why weak putters struggle in Majors, in the final round your putting will be relied on. All weekend especially he was pulling putts all over the place. Mark Roe pointed this out in the Sky coverage, a disaster in his putting was waiting to happen and it did with shocking putting throughout Sunday in particular. He needs to work hard on this part of his game. The ability to cope with the situation with come with experience.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    #60 - Given that Sam Torrance was also criticised what makes you think their comments were related to her gender? Or are you saying she shouldn't be criticised because she is female?

    For my part I find her incredibly bland and boring, but after 10 mins of Chris Evans on 5 live I returned to the TV with relief.

  • Comment number 62.

    I was going to leave a comment but Facker took the words out of my mouth.

  • Comment number 63.

    NEW CADDY AND WORLD CLASS COACH, NO POINT BEING LOYAL TO BANNON HEARD HIM SPEAK ON SUNDAY MORNING NICE GUY BUT INSPIRATIONAL ,,,NO GONE AS FAR AS HE CAN WITH RORY, NOW TIME TO STEP UP , WHAT THE HELL WAS THE CADDY DOING TO CALM RORY DOWN ON THE FIRST TEE?? NOTHING USELESS..GET A WORLD CLASS CADDY NOW!!! END OF,

  • Comment number 64.

    None of us can even imagine what`s like to be leading The Masters by four going to Sunday. I Carter doesn`t know it, we don`t know it, in fact only a handful of people had been there. So I`m not gonna have `my opinion`. I loved this year`s Masters, that`s all. I hope Rory wins it in future, he entertains crowd on a course.

    Now for those who critisize BBC golf coverage (altough only twice a year :), you have a choice, I watched it on SkySports. If you can`t afford Sky, you can apply for a job at BBC and try do a better job. Otherwise just be glad you could see a brilliant golf.

  • Comment number 65.

    some utter drivel on here, and the posters who have left the drivel.....do they play golf.....have they ever experienced a meltdown ??. I played at county level, yet in a few comps after a stunning start, the wheels suddenly fell off....and when they do,its very difficult to stop.

    Its easy with hindsight to say what Rory should have done. Personally I was begging him to just go for the middle of the green on the first, didn't want him to use his driver all the time, and I was also asking where his caddie was as he should have been slowing him down, getting him to focus etc. You can bet every penny that Williams does just this very job for Tiger.

    Personally I think Rory will be ok. I hope so. He was actually unlucky on the front nine, particularly eight, where he hit a great second shot that with a slightly kinder bounce ala Tiger half an hour earlier then he would have had an eagle putt. His chip seemed like a duff but it wasn't, as a fraction more and he would have been by the hole as he only had to touch his putt. A birdie there and that would have been two in a row and a much healthier frame of mind.

    Also note that he would have had to shoot a 69 to win, so it is fair to say that although it was disappointing, Schwartzel actually went out and won it.

    As for the idiot who said Westy had a panic attack at amen corner last year ??!!.....was it not the shot of the year by Mickelson on 13, preceded by countless up & downs from impossible places, culminating in a magical final round that actually won it for Mickelson. Westy did not blow it, mickelson definitely won it.

    And what of Tiger........got himself right there, then bottled with short missed putts on 12 & 15......the Tiger of a few years ago would have...... !!!!. And as for his after round interview - I see nothing has changed.....abrupt as ever, whereas evryone else interviewed actually conversed. Thought he was going to be more outgoing.....

  • Comment number 66.

    Some sportsmen have it mentally, some don't. Rory has shown more than once that he doesn't. His age is almost a non-factor since this is an attribute that rarely changes much over a career.

    The good news is that whilst mental strength is a prerequisite for true greatness, it's not a prerequisite for a strong career. Expect him to blow multiple leads in his time, but also to hang on and win on plenty of other occasions.

    Also worth pointing out that the way Schwarzel finished, a steady round from McIlroy wouldn't have been enough.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm sure there are many reasons why Rory McIlroy lost the plot on the back nine yesterday, some of which have been mentioned 1-64 above, and some of which only he will know. I wonder if one of the unmentioned factors thus far was his decision to stay with a load of his mates for the week. I believe his parents were back home in NI at his request (?). If this was the case, then the banter may have been good, but ultimately he may have suffered from a lack of older relatives around to help him stay grounded. He seems a young 21 compared with eg Tiger at the same age. I couldn't help think that even more as he shuffled around with his t-shirt tucked out at the back. I'm sure Chubby Chandler said some positive stuff to him but he had others to think about too, including the eventual winner!! Oh and I also agree re. his caddy, he looked a bit detached and unable to offer much in the way of support or calming words.

  • Comment number 68.

    Rory has three issues as far as I am concerned :
    Putting - he has to improve, simple as that
    Management - not sure Chubby Chandler is right for Rory. GMac had along hard look at what he needed to do to achieve his potential and decided to switch management to a company where he was the main focus.
    Coach - what was good enough until now is probably not good enough to fulfil his ultimate potential.

  • Comment number 69.

    A few others have commented, quite correctly, that one of the biggest factors was being paired with Cabrera.

    This is for two reasons:

    First, it stopped any chance of lighthearted banter, even if the desire to partake was there on both sides, the language barrier was insuperable.

    Possibly more importantly, though, was the incompatible rhythm. Having played and watched golf for over forty years, I have come to realise that, whether aware or not, the speed and manner of every element of one player can affect that of another.

    McIlroy is a very methodical player (albeit not slow), whereas Cabrera has the demeanour of just walking up and hitting it. Not only that, but gives the appearance of really smashing the ball. Despite the fact that McIlroy was consistently a longer hitter, I think his subconcious would have been trying to 'emphasise' that, and so he was swinging harder and faster, with inevitable results.

    I wouldn't blame McIlroy for succumbing to this. There are very, very few who do not (Nicklaus, Woods, Player, Faldo, for example). Indeed, I think it worked in the favour of Scott and Day, whose manner and speed complemented each other.

    If McIlroy had been lucky enough to play alonside Luke Donald, I suspect the outcome may have been very different.

  • Comment number 70.

    #55 'Sleight (sic) him in interviews?'. Before writing such a naive comment I suggest that you read the transcript of the interviews and understand the context in which the answers were given. Then you might grasp the skill that the media have in taking a nothing comment and making a banner headline from it. Poulter and McIlroy were guilty only of being too honest with their responses and not being media savvy enough.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think that some of the comments about the caddy are rather unfair. I read that he tried to slow down McIlroy on the 10th but the player rushed his third and fourth shots before he started rushing his putts. That seemed to be symptomatic of the pressure beginning to tell.

    To McIroys credit, he was gracious in defeat (one can be 'a good loser') and is young enough, good enough and confident enough to bounce back.

    My money was on Luke Donald (e/w) so at least I got modest compensation - but lost on Rose and Laird

  • Comment number 72.

    Its amazing that no one is commenting on the mental weakness of the current world number 1. After all he has never made the cut at Augusta.
    Rory is in the spotlight at a very young age and he will make mistakes everyone does and before people say "Tiger didn't" You should read the accounts of him being beaten in the walker cup by Gary Wolstemholme.
    From what I can remember he was hitting mid irons out of bounds and missing putts.
    All of the cynics have one thing in common, they have no idea what its like to be in that position.

  • Comment number 73.

    There's a lot of posts which really look at the effect rather than the cause, "he missed his putts", "he just caught a branch on the 10th by two feet" (Note: Justin Rose is papering the cracks for TV on that one) - for those of you who've participated in top end sport (elite level) will all know - it's the head which counts at the moments when the pressure is really on... aka final day.

    For 3 days, he's been on a journey (mentally) he's played that underdog role and well, he can't lose mindset.. just go out there and nail a good score and show everyone who's who.

    Final day is the day of reckoning, his mind the eve before was playing the 'destiny and history was in the making' scenario, impossible not too without good coaches aiming to draw your mind elsewhere.. On Sunday.. he looked a mess on the 1st - twitchy and walking fast (as stated in the article) it doesn't need a rocket scientist to call that; or for us to all sit on the fence and say "we don't know what was going through his mind, only he will know". Sure that's true in a factual manner of speaking - but he was so nervous and couldn't control it, obvious. That's why he got the jitters and his game came apart. The hooks, the bunkers, the putts at just the effect.

    I do agreed with some of the more subtle arguments around the caddy and playing partner Cabrera

    For the caddy I guess there's role play required - does Rory want a hands off approach(?), either way it's not worked and his caddy should be more 'on it'. At the very least justify more than being a bag carrier and yard reader (albeit who knows what was said without a microphone)

    Cabrera, he's tough as old boots - wouldn't give Rory an inch of support or warmth in view of his plight (not to be expected mind you) but they'd be zero warmth which young Rory might have benefited from when it was obvious.. it's a minor item though at this level.

    Comments raised about Jason Day and age and performance on the last day compared to Rory, again - looking at the effect not the cause. Jason was in underdog mindset, nothing to lose no lead to protect just gun for glory.. much easier mental position that protecting a 4 shot advantage with a big spotlight on you. Forgot the age analysis there, it's all mental.

  • Comment number 74.

    I have to agree with the above comments regarding McIlroy's caddie being below par and putting game needing to be looked at.

    As much I would have loved to have seen Rory come through yesterday, I think it would have glossed over the facts that he needs a stronger caddie, and needs to work on his putting game.

    I personally think he is going to win multiple major's but he is still 21 and whilst tiger won his first major at 21, very few players have won a major aged 23 or under. I would be surprised if Rory wins a major this year, and in all probability his game will be in a state of flux for the next month's.

    We should remember that the lad has only 2 pro wins to his name and perhaps having the killer instinct to win more regular tournaments is what is required from McIlroy, just look at Kaymer's progress to the top of golf, he had won 5 tournaments all over the world before he won at Whistling Straits.

  • Comment number 75.

    Can anyone remember the last person to lead a major for 3 rounds and actually win.........apart from Tiger Woods, who was just about programmed to handle pressure.

    If he had been 4 shots behind he would have been more aggressive and maybe got on a roll. If he had shot 70 he would have been in a play off, so he still had to shoot -3, in the last round of a Major, at 21, on one of the hardest courses in the world, with some of the quickest greens they play on and some of the best players in the world, including a charging Woods breathing down your neck.

    Piece of cake if you ask me, can't see a problem.

  • Comment number 76.

    As for Mark Roe's pre-round comment on Sky of 'McIlroy already having one sleeve of the jacket on' (or something similar), well what a numpty! You would think a former pro with his experience would have more understanding of the history of what happens over the back nine on Masters Sunday, than to come out with such a ridiculous comment. Keep playing with your touch screen Mark...

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm a big fan of Rory, but there are worrying signs of frailty under pressure and unfortunate similarities with Sergio Garcia. He and Garcia are probably the two best ball-strikers in the world, but just look how Garcia's years of missed putts has held him back and taken away his love of the game. More like scar tissue than character building.

    Unfortunately the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, which in this case doesn't make good reading. For such a highly ranked player, Rory has been in contention on a surprisingly limited number of occasions: 2008 Omega - missed 3 foot put to win tournament and then lost playoff; 2009 Dubai Classic almost threw away a 6 shot lead in the last few holes, winning by 1; 2009 Race to Dubai was schooled by Westwood when they were both going for European number 1 in last tournament; 2010 Quail Hollow came from behind with stunning last round to win; 2010 Open - Shot 80 after leading with course record; 2010 PGA - missed put after put down the stretch, eventually 3-putting himself out of contention on 15th hole; Ryder Cup - poor overall performance and almost blew it on the final hole against Cink, first by finding the bunker with a short iron and then failing to get our of the bunker; 2011 Masters - complete meltdown.

    The trend is unmistakable, but what worries me most is his recent comment that "I don't care what anyone says about the short game being the most important, it's not. The long game puts you in position to have putts to win tournaments. Guys say you have to have short game to win tournaments and it is not the case. Not at all.” Like an alcoholic he first needs to admit he's got problems putting and closing, and no amount of chilling out with your mates will mask that when you're alone on the first tee, on the last day of a major, with a gunslinger like Cabrera facing you down.

  • Comment number 78.

    Rory's interview afterwards said all the right things and I was really impressed, i personally was devastated just watching it so i cannot imagine the inner turmoil he must have been going through.

    I am confident that he will bounce back and learn from the experience, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger!

  • Comment number 79.

    It was terrific viewing and all credit to the way the course was set up.

    It was noticeable that balls rarely ran/spun off the fronts of greens as they have done in prior years, especially at 9 and 15. The greens were fast but not silly fast and the pins on the back 9 were mostly set up for birdies and eagles to create the excitement. The greens were holding (as were the fairways !).

    Charl played superbly, great swing, great putter. He has destroyed fields in the past, albeit in lesser events. Day and Scott also made courageous runs at winning the event and Tiger is showing signs of getting back to his surly best !

    Rory spoke very well after his round (just think how Sir Mont would have reacted) and is a wonderful natural talent. I'm not sure on his inner steel, I'll reserve judgement on that just now, he reminds me of Norman in a number of ways.

    However he conducted himself very well.

  • Comment number 80.

    I dont see what the problem is. The lad's 21, he's right at the beginning of his life and his career. 21 is baby age, so for those saying he's blown it, bottled it, or whatever, those remarks will be coming from people (probably middle aged) who have never had the stones to compete at anything in their lives. Its oh so easy to criticise.

    21 years old and he cops all this pressure. The world is'nt right. Rather than saying he's a bottler, you should be saying how much of a miracle it was that a 21 year old could lead a major over 3 days. That in itself is an achievement.

    Sometimes we take these young lads (usually footballers) and we stand the whole world on their shoulders while they are still teenagers.

    Thats got to stop.

  • Comment number 81.

    This is really quite ridiculous.The guy is a huge talent,he did as much as anyone.Where were the rest? The players in the mix are all at least 5 years older and in the highest echelons of the game,it was fantastic golf played by the worlds best.Golf is intense,you need the breaks and sometimes it's not your day.
    Most of us would struggle to even take the club back with that pressure. Let us all be gratefull for the privelidge of watching great golf,it will be someone else who gets the breaks next time.

  • Comment number 82.

    Rory finished ahead for 3 days despite missing a number of first putts. If they had dropped maybe day 4 would have been very different.
    Mature head on young shoulders so I expect him to bounce back from this quite soon.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    I started watching just before the 10th and the first thing I saw was a very uncomfortable looking McIlroy. My first thoughts were, OMG, he has blown it and I was surprised to see that he was still in the lead at -11 at the time.
    I couldn't agree more with the article. Rory has bags of talent and shouldn't beat himself up about it. If he goes on to win a major, it will be all the sweeter. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

  • Comment number 85.

    There are a lot of comments on here, that reveal the writers lack of history in golf. Don't they remember how many times Faldo was written off by the media as being a choker and someone who didn't have the mental game to win a major. And how about what they wrote about Greg Norman just because he had some poor rounds at the Masters, all of which totally ignored his huge talent.
    I remember after one pasting by the media, how Faldo approached Norman and said, "ignore them Greg and let your golf do the talking". I doubt anyone would deny the truth of that or that Greg's golf did all the talking necessary.
    I do think too, that many posters pay far too much attention to media pundits in any sport, who are in the main frustrated wannabee competitors. Amazing how many critics thre are, who could stitch together half a dozen good holes, let alone compete at the highest level.

  • Comment number 86.

    why did Rory wear black on the hottest day of weekend...that had to drain some of his energy...such a simple thing but a "major" mistake. Can see him really diagnosing
    effectively the nuances of his defeat and pushing on.....experience with short game
    improvement and he will be the player to produce the goods...to much pedigree.

  • Comment number 87.

    Come on folks, lets not over analyse
    Rory is an exciting swashbuckling and very talented golfer who plays with genuine heart and soul.
    All of us who play the game know the wheels can come off and not even Tiger can hold his game together week in, week out
    I and many others are inspired by his approach which is a welcome change form the sea of dull automatons on the tour. Sure it went AWOL on Sunday but it's a learning curve, sink a few beers Rory and come back bigger and better, you are an inspiration

  • Comment number 88.

    Let's not get carried away here, Rory played fantastic, he led the Masters for 63 holes, whilst under attack from the greatest golfers in the world.

    On 64th He hit one bad shot, had one bad hole, and it unsettled him - I can't remember a major with 7 players within one shot, great viewing - a bit of luck and he would have had a great recovery, but that's golf....

    What's wrong with being nervous on the biggest day of your golfing life, some of the comments don't really make sense, Rory is not a robot, he is a young very gifted golfer.
    Get a grip give him credit for a great week's golf.
    It's a disappointment, that's all, make these armchair shrinks eat their words Rory

  • Comment number 89.

    So he had a shaky front nine. Who wouldn't when someone chips in twice to wipe out your lead? That and Woods rediscovering some form.
    And he hit a poor tee shot on ten. How far did it ricochet away from the fairway? 50m? I've seen Woods hit the ball in the trees dozens of times at Augusta and he never seems to get as much as a branch impeding his swing. Rory got a terrible break, with everyone breathing down his neck and it affected him badly.
    Agreed that his putting was a bit ropey even before Amen Corner, but you are not supposed to be able to read and strike sweetly every putt at Augusta unless you're in Position A on the green (or you're Luke Donald).
    Perhaps if Rory slowed his swing down slightly? Ther seems so little margin for error when you're hitting it that hard....

  • Comment number 90.

    He's a very talented golfer but that was a dreadful collapse. One must hope he's able to toughen up and win the big tournaments his ability merits over the course of his career. He should, but it's wrong to think it certain - you need to take the chances when they come, 21 or not.

  • Comment number 91.

    as a sufferer from an ability to hit a tree with the finest of margins i have alt of sympathy for roy and the domino effect that follows!!. Tough luck for him, but a huge thank you for his early play. It reminded me of woosnam when he won. What i would like to know is what happened to the bbc coverage? They the bbc advertise full radio coverage excuse me sky are showing 3D this is the 21st century not the 30's

  • Comment number 92.

    I agree completely with Rich (12.44pm 11/04/11). His caddie needs to take some of the responsibility for what happened on Sunday. He should have pulled Rory aside, possibly even before the 10th, but certainly on the 10th. Knock it out the trees, knock it down to a good pitching distance instead of going for the glory 3 wood. That way he could have walked off having hit a couple of good, comfortable shots in a row. It's also up to the caddie to make sure that he was walking slower to ensure that he didn't have to wait on the group in front which they seemed to be doing. A real pity. Still Rory showed his class by giving a superb post round interview- take note Tiger Woods !

  • Comment number 93.

    Oh Dear ,, but hardly surprising ,,in hindsight , to go to the masters with your mates is not realy ideal preperation is it , the boy realy needs a good profesional team around him ,,, his manager (chubby) said on tv ,that he would not dream of offering the boy advice on how to play , and left him to get on with it ,, and his caddy !!! having some experience of the role of a good caddy i know the difference it can make , what was this guys imput !! some one else has already picked up on this , and , made the point he need to learn how to win,, great to lead for three days , but its the last one that counts , Lets hope he realises this ,,,or someone tells him and he can surround himself , with a team of winners , lets hope so , it would be a tragady if hie undouted tallent were to go to waste ,, fingers crossed

  • Comment number 94.

    I think it is important to remember that Rory has been there or thereabouts for the last three majors T3 for the Open and PGA and leading for 3 days at Augusta. This is remarkable consistency from a 21 year old.

    He very much needs to improve his putting. Its always been a weakness but that can come through work. Failing that his tee to green play is so consistent that at some point he will hit a putting hot streak (as we all do) at a major and win the thing. Not ideal but that is why I am absolutely positive he will.

    In terms of the sport, Rory has provided us with an excellent spectacle this week. He has picked up many admirers and more support, both due to his game on the first three days and what happened on the final day. Next time he is in this position he will have everyone rooting for him and when he wins it will be all the sweeter.

    Remember - too prominent 'bottlers' I can think of - Greg Norman and Jimmy White are two of the most loved and respected competitors in their respective sports. It could be worse for Rory

  • Comment number 95.

    Interesting that most think Rory will go on and win majors, however, past trends do not stack up with these thoughts.
    Sergio and Andres Romero ( remember him at Carnoustie 2007 ? ) have all but disapeared from golf since they both 'bottled' the final round at that famous open.

    Hope I am wrong but it does appear that the scars of these incidents are more damaging than a 'learning curve'

  • Comment number 96.

    Rory will win a major if he learns the right lessons. On Sunday he was too eager right from the start, probably due to nervousness. On the first he started his 2nd shot way right, trying a fancy draw to get to position A at mid-green. But it turned into a slight hook. On the fourth he tried to get it close with an 8 iron from the bunker. Why? Doesn't he trust his chipping or was he just going for glory? The latter won't win majors, as it's too often "death or glory".

    All of this, and the seven on 10 that could have been six or even five with better tactics, could and should have been nipped in the bud by a caddie. What Rory needs is one who he knows is wiser about course management than himself, and whose judgement he therefore respects. Playing the same defensive golf as in the 2nd and 3rd rounds Rory could have used the par fives to claw out at least a 70 and a play-off with Schwartzel.

    As for Rory's putting. I know the guy might look mighty uncool to a 21 year-old, but do you think he should have a talk with Adam Scott?

  • Comment number 97.

    http://wp.me/p1mHui-8 Here are my views on the subject. Check out my blog. A lot of stuff I feel wasn't mentioned here.

  • Comment number 98.

    Well, that was some choke from McIlroy. He'll never win a major, too weak mentally.

  • Comment number 99.

    97 - I have read your blog and agree with most, however, why all this Rory will win majors..? We do not have a very good record and hold many excellent golfers who have never won a major. ( is Rory better than Monty, I doubt it )

    Add to the general poor putting our guys have apart from Donald and the 'comments' made by the likes of Poulter on Woods ( Rory has had his say in the past about Tiger as well ) makes them look, well rather silly. I bet Tiger was having a quite smile after they all finished behind him.

    I just think that our guys with all their twitters and generally having a good time are not going to able to sustain a long term challange. Excxeptions of course in Kaymer, Donald, Harrington, the rest - maybe in the monty bracket of great golfers that can never win a major. ( but will post pictures of their private jets on Twitter...!- Americans are just a different class when it comes to this type of showing off that our guys seem to wish to do these days.

    I do not beleive a european will win a major this year and the added threat of an injured Tiger getting back to his new best will be a factor.

    Just think most of you are giving this Rory bloke a lot of credit and forget how young he is, this guy has played in over 100 events..! Jason Day in his FIRST masters proved to have far more fighting spirit.

  • Comment number 100.

    @99
    Harrington's finished

 

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