Rory McIlroy needs a victory at Augusta National to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players in the modern era to win all four majors – watch throughout the week live on Sky Sports The Masters
By Ali Stafford
Rory McIlroy was given a timely reminder about the importance of major success during a visit to Tiger Woods ahead of The Masters.
McIlroy arrives at Augusta National with another opportunity to become only the sixth player in the modern era to complete golf’s Grand Slam, although is without a major victory since 2014 and has dropped to 12th in the world after going 16 months without a worldwide win.
The four-time major champion would become the first player to claim all four major titles since Tiger Woods, who claimed his 15th major win and fifth Masters victory in 2019 but is absent from this year’s contest as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in February’s car crash.
Woods is currently recuperating at home in Florida, where McIlroy visited the former world No 1 and was left impressed by how major victories are recognised compared to his other tournament wins.
“I went over to Tiger’s house a few weeks ago and in his family room he’s got his 15 major trophies and I said, ‘That’s really cool, where are all the others?”‘ McIlroy said.
“And he was like, ‘I don’t know. My mum has some, a few are in the office, a few are wherever’.
“That’s all he cared about [winning majors], so how easy must that have felt for him to win all the others? He talked about these are the four weeks that matter, so the weeks that didn’t matter he racked them up at a pretty fast clip.
“If all he cared about was four weeks a year, the other stuff must have just been like practice. That’s a cool perspective to have, right? That’s all I could think about on the way home – and I was glad he was okay too!”
Woods was also unable to attend Tuesday’s Champions Dinner, hosted by Dustin Johnson after his record-breaking win in 2020, with McIlroy hoping the 82-time PGA Tour winner will be it able to tee it up again in future majors.
“Any time Tiger Woods tees it up in a golf tournament, it’s better,” McIlroy added. “It’s better for the tournament. It’s better for the players that are involved. It’s better for everyone.
“Unfortunately, he’s not here this year. Hopefully, if his recovery goes well, who knows, he could be back in 12 months’ time. He’s always missed when he doesn’t play in these big events and that doesn’t change this week.
“I know he’s at home and he’s fully focused on the recovery process and I feel like he’s mentally strong enough to get through that. Once he does, broken bones heel, and he’s just got to take it step by step.
“I know he’d love to be here, and I’m sure he’s going to put everything he has into trying to be ready to play here next year.”
Watch The Masters this week live on Sky Sports, with all four rounds exclusively live on Sky Sports’ Masters channel. Live coverage beings with Featured Groups from 2pm on Thursday April 8.