\"Rory

Rory McIlroy hits a shot out of the azalea bushes during the second round of the Masters last Friday.

Rory McIlroy can learn from a marker

\"Rory

Rory McIlroy hits a shot out of the azalea bushes during the second round of the Masters last Friday.

All good things come to an end. So do bad ones, so the “thank you very much Mr. Eastwood” campaign is now well and truly over. And it may never re-appear.

My regular reader will remember my words from last week about a double on TeaforThree for the Grand National at Aintree and Zach Johnson for the Masters.

The tip on this huge double came from one Adrian Eastwood, son of the legendary Barney and a young man who only ever missed one of the famous Barry McGuigan nights at a time when the Clones Cyclone ruled the world.

A wise man when it comes to golf tipping, he is currently top of the European Tour’s fantasy golf league. Adrian reckoned the TeaforThree/Johnson double was worth a bob or two.

And the regular reader will know that I did indeed put a bob or 10 on the Grand National/Masters double up.

Of course, being a supreme novice when it comes to betting, I didn’t just take my medicine and look for easier ways to make a living when TeaforThree exited the Grand National long before the final places were decided at Aintree.

Working on the theory that I would kick myself if Zach went on to win the coveted green jacket, I only went and put another tenner each way on Johnson at the wonderful odds of 28/1.

I wouldn’t get the thousands of euros that would have come my bet if the double came up, but a Johnson win would ease the pain by about €350. Adrian couldn’t be wrong a second time – or so I thought.

Any of you who watched the Masters last weekend – and apparently millions of Americans switched off because Tiger was missing – will know that Zach lasted in the tournament about as long as TeaforThree lasted in the National.

He had his own Beecher’s Brook incident down by Rae’s Creek and was out of contention by the close of round one and out of the Masters by the close of round two. So much for my future as a gambler!

Zach wasn’t the only one to suffer Masters fatigue last weekend. Messrs Els and Mickelson failed to make the cut alongside him, while our own great hope Rory McIlroy was first out on Saturday morning after scraping into the final two rounds with nothing to spare on three over par.

The fact that he had to play with a marker early on Saturday – a multimillionaire whose 70 outscored Rory by a shot – tells you all you need to know about WeeMac’s implosion when Friday’s 77 really cost him dearly.

Take the Friday out of it and Rory was five under for the tournament, the sort of shooting that can actually contend for the Masters in the normal course of events.

And therein lies the rub for our Rory. He needs to learn the lessons of his 2014 Masters.

He needs to learn from Friday’s round than from the other three that helped him to his best ever Masters finish at tied eighth, and he needs to learn from businessman Jeff Knox.

In fact if I was Rory – I wish – I’d ring Mr. Knox before the next Masters and ask him to play a few rounds with me at Augusta National before the 2015 chase for the Green Jacket.

Knox didn’t outdrive McIlroy on the Saturday. He just outscored him.

Why? Because he knows the course better than the pros, because he understand the premium of positioning on one of the trickiest golf courses in the world.

He holds the course record for Augusta, so beating Rory wasn’t a once off. And it might just be the makings of our Masters hopeful.

By Sunday night – after a final round 69 that included sixes on two of the par fives – Rory was telling anyone who would listen that he now knows Augusta better than ever before, that he now feels better equipped than ever to win at the first major of the year.

To prove it -- and he has yet to prove he can win this great event -- he must prove he took on board how Knox played with the contours on Georgia’s most famous golf course.

Then he will contend for the green jacket. And I will back him and get my money back – without any help from Mr. Eastwood. Thanks indeed!

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)

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