Rory McIlroy says he can win green jacket at US Masters
Irishman is first round co-leader with spectacular 65
Rory McIlroy is confident he can try on the green jacket in Butler’s cabin at the close of the Masters tournament this weekend.
But he will readily accept the luck of the Irish when he continues his quest for the most famous green jacket in the world at Augusta today.
A proud and confident McIlroy goes into the second round of the US Masters top of the leaderboard, level on seven under par with the Spaniard Alvaro Quiros and two shots clear of Korean duo YE Yang and KJ Choi.
The 21-year-old McIlroy, playing in his third Masters, shot a sparkling 65 on Thursday to set the early pace at Augusta and establish a lead that lasted all day until Quiros matched him in the final grouping of the opening round.
The flawless display by McIlroy brought back memories of his opening 63 at last year’s British Open at St Andrews – but the young man from Bangor in County Down will be keeping his fingers crossed that his second round 80 in that tournament isn’t repeated today.
It shouldn’t be if McIlroy’s brilliance amongst the azaleas on Thursday can be maintained for the second round of the first Major of the year.
“I wouldn’t say it was as spectacular as my 63 at St. Andrews, but it was very solid from start to finish,” said McIlroy as the world acclaimed his brilliance.
“I think what happened at St. Andrews will be a massive help to me. Looking back, it was a valuable lesson in my development.
“At the time, it was very disappointing but looking back, it was probably very valuable in my progression as a golfer.
“I hope it will help me. I have that experience to draw on, especially being in a similar position to last year at St. Andrews.
“I feel like I’m better prepared to tee off in the second round of a major with the lead.
“It’s possible I can go out and shoot another 65, but I know it’s also very likely that I’m not going to do that.
I’m going to have to stick in there, to grind it out and that’s something I feel I’ve learned to do since St Andrews.”
On a day that saw Padraig Harrington struggle with a neck injury before signing for a disappointing 77 and Graeme McDowell finish with a 74, McIlroy could do no wrong.
He returned seven birdies in his seven under par round - at the second, where he sensibly laid-up short of the green and got up and down; the third (holing from four feet), fourth (from 20 feet), ninth (10 feet), 11th (eighth feet), 14th (four feet) and 15th (two putts).
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