IF Rory McIlroy retires without a career Grand Slam, he will complain long and hard about unlucky 13 at Augusta.
His failure to birdie this ridiculously-short par five has cost him hots at a Green Jacket in the past.
Rory McIlroy glowers in the flowers once again as the 13th hole again proves costly in his bid to finally win the Masters[/caption]
Norther Ireland superstar Rory McIlroy is caught short once more at his jinxed 13th, as he dropped a shot for the first time in 33 holes[/caption]
And just when he was on the charge on Saturday – surging into the top ten with a run of four birdies in five holes – a gut-wrenching, three-putt bogey on the same hole stopped him in his tracks.
That was his first dropped shot in 33 holes and you just knew that if the spell had to end, this was the most likely spot for it to happen.
Even before the tournament began, McIlroy admitted he had grown to dread No 13.
Although at just 510 yards — very short for a modern-day par five — it is regarded as one of Augusta’s must-birdie holes.
McIlroy said: “I mean, obviously it’s pretty. The azaleas on 13 and everything in the spring is nice — and I’ve had a closer look at them than most people!
“Let’s face it, I’ve hit it up into those azaleas left of 13 too many times.”
The azaleas may be out of season in November, but McIlroy was deep in the pine trees down the 13th on day one — before scrambling a bogey six.
And it was the only one of the par fives he failed to birdie in the second round as he bounced back from his opening 75 with a brilliant 66.
Rory McIlroy was on a charge in his attempt to complete golf’s Grand Slam but then slipped up at a familiar place[/caption]
Rory McIlroy can’t believe it as he fluffs the 13th hole yet again[/caption]
That rally meant the Northern Irish star started the third round in 28th place, a vast improvement on his share of 77th in a field of just 92 at the end of the first 18 holes.
He felt his recovery meant he was still in with an outside chance of winning the only Major that has eluded him so far.
The former world No 1 has two USPGA titles and victories in The Open and US Open on his CV.
Only five players have completed the set — Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen — so it is no wonder it has become McIlroy’s ultimate goal.
Even more so after what happened in 2011 when, leading by four going into the final round, he collapsed to an 80 as Charl Schwartzel left Georgia wearing the Green Jacket.
McIlroy’s chances were improving by the minute yesterday as he birdied the two long holes on the front nine — the second and eighth — and then picked up shots on nine and ten to romp to seven under for the tournament.
And when he holed a bunker shot on the short but treacherous 12th, he was suddenly on the first page of the leaderboard at eight under.
But it looked as if the doubts were gnawing at him as he tugged his tee shot at 13 into the pine straw.
From there he sensibly laid up short of Rae’s Creek, instead of taking on the hero shot over the water.
His crisp chip settled nine feet behind the flag and it looked as if at least one of the ghosts from the final hole on Amen Corner was about to be banished.
But he rolled the birdie putt four feet past the flag, missed the one coming back, and leaned on his putter with his shoulders sagging as yet another bogey went on to the scorecard.
He knew he had to force the issue even more after that.
It could have spelled disaster for his Masters hopes when he put his second shot at the long 15th into the water.
But a terrific up-and-down save from the drop zone enabled him to make par — and he followed up by sinking a 12-foot putt for a birdie two on the 16th hole.
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A couple of highly-acceptable pars to finish meant McIlroy signed for a five-under-par 67.
And at eight under heading into the final round, he is still lurking with intent.
But you just fear for what might happen when he gets to No 13 today.