With Tiger Woods out of the 2014 Masters for the first time in almost two decades and not really being on top of his golf game, is it time for the number two guy at Nike, Rory McIlroy to step up and once again establish himself as the best golfer in the world? After watching the 24 year-old Ulstermen hit his approach shot to the 72nd hole at The Honda Classic, it left no doubt in my mind that he was close. Learning to win again, and some help with his putting game will go a long way in pushing Rory back to the top of the World Rankings in Professional Golf.
He has all of the tools, and has to be the favorite as we ease into Masters week to win his first Green Jacket. He was close in 2011 but imploded on the back nine on Sunday only to hand the Green Jacket to Charl Schwartzel. I think a new and improved Rory McIlroy has put the horrible 2013 season behind himself, and is the man to beat this week in Augusta.
The key to keeping Rory McIlroy competitive at Augusta National is his driver. When Rory is finding fairways with some consistency, he is a tough competitor. His exceptionally high ball flight into the unforgiving greens at Augusta gives him the best chance to win.
The only thing keeping me from giving him a Green Jacket today is his putter. Rory is by all standards, an average putter. He has an excellent short game and when that short game is giving him five foot birdie putts, no one can beat him, when he’s trying to save par from 10 feet, he can’t win.
McIlroy matched the tournament low on Sunday by shooting a final round -7 under 65 in the deteriorating weather conditions at The Shell Houston Open. Had he been a little closer on Sunday morning, may well have been in the mix by the end of the day. He finished T7 and was in Augusta before the tournament was over.
Las Vegas had Rory at 7-1 odds which was two points better than Tiger Woods at 9-1. Of course, Tiger has withdrawn leaving the stage set for Rory McIlroy to win the Masters in 2014 and have Adam Scott slip on that new Green Jacket Sunday afternoon.