Padraig Harrington Exclusive: Rory McIlroy under huge pressure to win The Masters

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Rory McIlroy is aiming to complete a career Grand Slam by winning The Masters this week
Rory McIlroy is aiming to complete a career Grand Slam by winning The Masters this week

Rory McIlroy is putting himself under huge pressure to win The Masters at Augusta this week – and that may be one of the key reasons why he comes up short once again.

There is no doubt in my mind that McIlroy has what it takes to win the one Grand Slam that has eluded him so far in his career, but we all know how much this means to Rory and he is very open about the expectation he has to win this tournament and move himself into a different place among golf’s all-time greats.

Rory is very honest and open about that fact that this tournament means more to him than any other. Some players might try and play down the significance of winning The Masters as it does put extra pressure on Rory, but the truth is this is the biggest deal in golf for him and he cannot escape from that.

Rory could make his life a lot for simple by playing it down and insisting it is just another tournament, but he has made it clear it is anything but that in his mind. The minute the Masters finishes and he hasn’t won it, he is already turning his thoughts to trying to win the next one and he is in a unique position in that respect.

Other players will target the three major that will follow in the coming months, but so much of Rory’s focus and ambition is based on The Masters because no one else in the game is trying to complete a career Grand Slam at this moment and until he does that, people will talk about it and Rory will be thinking about it. This is a big deal for Rory and he doesn’t try to hide it.

Who wants this kind of pressure? Well I guess we all do right!

I would love to be in position teeing it up at The Masters knowing I just need this one to complete the Grand Slam, but it is also an extra pressure that only he will be dealing with in the next few days.

There is no bigger tournament in the game than The Masters and Rory is desperate to get himself on that very special list of winners. We know he will get over the line at Augusta at some point in the next few years, but he will want it to happen right now and there is no reason why he should wait.

Dustin Johnson in red-hot form heading into The Masters (Getty Images)
Dustin Johnson in red-hot form heading into The Masters (Getty Images)

Rory is good enough to win it and probably heads into this week as second favourite behind Dustin Johnson. We would all love to see Rory and Dustin heading into the final day leading the field and it would be interesting to see the two of them going at each other if they both bring the A-games with them to Augusta.

There are six or seven guys who could win this week, but Rory and Dustin are the two who have the ability to take it away from everyone else in the field.

When Tiger Woods was at his best, he was the name you looked for every time you got back to the clubhouse. If Tiger shot 65 in the first round, there was consternation in the locker room because people knew he was tough to beat when he was playing well.

Rory and Dustin are in that camp now. Rory has proved he can hold on to a lead in majors and Dustin Johnson now looks like a guy who is better than the rest when he is on form. The two of them have that intimidation factor.

Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose will probably be in the mix as well as they always tend to do well at Augusta, but all eyes will be on Dustin and Rory and we expect big things from them. I can’t wait for the show to get underway.

Sky Sports will show all four days of The Masters live, with Padraig Harrington joining its commentary team at Augusta.

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