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Relaxed McIlroy ready for Masters

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McIlroy soaks up Masters build-up

Rising star Rory McIlroy believes he is capable of challenging for victory on his Masters debut this week.

McIlroy, 19, says he is "just out to enjoy myself" at Augusta but insists his lack of experience does not mean that he will not contend.

"If I can go out and play the way I have been playing, there's no reason why I can't go and try and win it," the Northern Irishman told BBC Sport.

"I don't have the bad thoughts or any negatives to think back on."

McIlroy soaked up the Masters atmosphere during his first official practice round on Monday and he was amazed at the size of the galleries so early in the week.

"It's only Monday but there were 30,000 or 40,000 people around the golf course. It's great to be here and I'm just going to enjoy every minute of it."

Player tips Mcllroy for 'great future'

Sergio Garcia made a huge impact 10 years ago when, aged 19, he pushed Tiger Woods to the limit at the US PGA Championship, and he has some advice for McIlroy.

"He's doing great, but the main thing is to pace himself," said the Spaniard. "When you start out and you're doing well, it's easy to play too much.

"As the years have gone by, I've learned that you have to control yourself a bit to make sure you pick the times when you want to be at your best in the season. But Rory's a wonderful golfer."

McIlroy has only played five professional events in the US but he is already a big name on the PGA Tour.

NBC golf commentator and former Open and US champion Johnny Miller said over the weekend that the youngster "has all the shots" and McIlroy has already become a favourite with the galleries on the other side of the pond.

"It's pretty cool. This is my fifth tournament over here and people have got to know me a little better.

"It's definitely a nice thing to be walking around the golf course and people shouting your name and wishing you good luck," added McIlroy, who claimed his first European Tour win at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.

The teenager seems unfazed by the elevated company in which he is playing with this week.

World number one Tiger Woods has been the main inspiration for the Northern Irishman's rise to the top at such an early age.

Indeed, McIlroy says that he can "probably tell you every shot that Tiger hit" in the American's first Masters triumph 12 years ago.

"He was only 21 and you could sort of relate to someone that age. You think to yourself, 'Well, hopefully when I'm that age, I can do something like that'.

"It was definitely inspirational to see someone come out and make such a great start to their professional career.

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"That's what I've always wanted to do. If I can play well enough this week, I might be able to emulate it."

McIlroy added he would love to face Woods in the final group on Sunday.

"It would be an occasion that you would relish," he said.

"That's what you've practised so hard for your whole life, to be able to play in the final group of a major with the best player in the world."



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see also
Woods lauds emerging McIlroy
08 Apr 09 |  Golf


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