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Masters 2021: Rory McIlroy looking at ‘big picture’ after swing troubles

Masters 2021: Rory McIlroy looking at 'big picture' after swing troubles thumbnail
Rory McIlroy trying to see ‘big picture’ ahead of latest Masters bid
Venue: Augusta National Golf Club Date: 8-11 April
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sounds. Live text commentary on BBC Sport website from first drive to last putt on all four days. Daily highlights on BBC Two. Click for full coverage details

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy says he is looking at the “big picture” after enlisting the help of swing coach Pete Cowen before this week’s Masters.

McIlroy admitted he damaged his swing by trying to copy Bryson DeChambeau, who added more length to his tee shots before he went on to win the US Open.

He needs to win the Masters to complete a career Grand Slam of all four majors.

“I’m obviously focused on this week but it’s bigger than that,” said McIlroy, who has slipped to 12th in the world.

“I’m trying to see the big picture. It’s a journey to try to get back to playing the game the way I know I can.”

The last of the 31-year-old’s four majors came in 2014 and he is without a victory on the PGA Tour since November 2019.

“I’m actually getting away from a lot of technical thoughts. I’m actually going the other way. I feel like I’ve simplified the whole process,” added McIlroy.

“There’s been a lot of looking back to try to go forward instead of just saying, OK, this is where we are, this is the present, this is what you’ve got to work with, let’s go forward from here.

“There’s been a lot of, ‘back in 2014 I did this or look at this’. That’s a long time ago now and you can’t change the past. It’s not as if you can just magically delve back into it and bring it all back to life.”

It is 10 years since McIlroy squandered a four-shot lead in the final round and this will be his seventh attempt at completing the career Grand Slam.

He has had five top-10 finishes in those six tournaments, although he was only really in contention in 2018 when he was second, three behind leader and eventual champion Patrick Reed going into the final round, but shot a two-over 74 to fall away.

“I’ve played a bunch of really good rounds on this golf course before, but just not four in a row,” he said. “That’s the challenge and, if I can do that and get my head in the right place and feel like my game’s where it needs to be, then I’ve no doubt that I can put it all together.”

McIlroy played nine holes with world number one and defending champion Dustin Johnson on Monday, as well as doing some work with Cowen.

“Just go back to the simple process of practising to improve,” Cowen said of working with McIlroy. “There’s no getting better in the past so we’ve got to move forward.”

DeChambeau, however, says he was surprised to hear he had influenced McIlroy’s pursuit of distance.

“From my perspective, I wasn’t trying to change anybody else’s game – I was just trying to play the best golf I could,” said the American.

“I knew there would be people there to be influenced. I didn’t think it would be Rory.

“I think he’s a pretty smart, talented individual that knows how to play the game potentially better than me. It’s honouring and humbling hearing him say it’s a difficult task.”

McIlroy’s takeaway from Woods visit

McIlroy has also taken some perspective from a visit to Tiger Woods’ house in Florida.

Woods won the 2019 Masters to claim his 15th major title – 11 years after winning his 14th – but is absent this year as he recovers from serious leg and foot injuries suffered in a car accident in Los Angeles in February.

“In his family room he’s got his 15 major trophies and I said, ‘that’s really cool, where are all the others?'” said McIlroy.

“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 OK too!”

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