Masters 2014: Rory McIlroy unfazed by Augusta meltdown

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport at Augusta
McIlroy confident for Augusta challenge

Rory McIlroy insists he has no lasting bad memories of Augusta and says his 2011 Masters meltdown was the catalyst for two major titles.

The Northern Irishman blew a four-shot lead going into the final round at Augusta, but went on to clinch the US Open two months later.

McIlroy added a US PGA title in 2012 and, in the absence of Tiger Woods, is the favourite for this year's Masters.

"I have no ill feelings towards 2011," he said.

"It was a very important day in my career. It was a big learning curve.

Rory McIlroy's Masters nightmare

"I don't know if I had not had that day, whether I would be the person and the player I am sitting here. I learned exactly what not to do under pressure and contention and definitely learned how to handle my emotions better on the course."

The 24-year-old tied for 40th place at Augusta the following year and tied 25th last time out during a season in which he struggled both on and off the course following a switch to new equipment and legal wranglings with his management company.

He bounced back with victory over Masters champion Adam Scott in the Australian Open in December and lost to American Russell Henley in a four-way play-off for the Honda Classic in early March.

He completed his Masters preparations with a round of 65 to finish seventh in the Houston Open last week.

"Mind, body, equipment, it's all there," he said. "There are no excuses if I don't do well this week. It's just a matter of managing my expectations, not getting ahead of myself."

The world number nine spoke last week of hoping to be the player that can fill the void left by Woods, who is out for an undetermined length of time following back surgery.

McIlroy says he has slowly become comfortable with the idea that he can be a player who transcends his sport, citing LeBron James in basketball, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in tennis and Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi in football, and admits he cannot see his career ending without a Green Jacket.

"It makes it easier these days when you have two majors in the bag," he said. "It's not that you don't care as much, but you know you'll have more opportunities."

McIlroy will tee off alongside rising Americans Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed at 10:52 (15:52 BST) on Thursday.

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