McIlroy's grand-slam bid on hold for another year

Steve ReedAP
Rory McIlroy weighs up his options at Augusta National. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconRory McIlroy weighs up his options at Augusta National. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

Rory McIlroy's bid to complete a career grand slam will have to wait yet another year after the world's second-ranked golfer failed to make a leap up the leaderboard on moving day at the Masters.

McIlroy shot 71: solid, but not nearly enough to climb into contention ahead of the final round.

"All I can do is come here and try my best," McIlroy said with a shrug of his shoulders following Saturday's play.

"That's what I do every time I show up. Some years it's better than others.

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"I've just got to keep showing up and try to do the right thing."

The right thing has been elusive at Augusta National for the 34-year-old McIlroy, particularly this week.

He is three-over 219 for the tournament.

The Northern Irishman won the US Open in 2011, the first of two PGA championships in 2012 and the British Open in 2024 to put him on the brink of joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods as the only players to complete the modern grand slam.

At 26, it seemed a forgone conclusion.

Yet here we are nearly 10 years later, and McIlroy is still searching for the magic formula to solve Augusta National.

He's been close, never more so than finishing runner-up in 2022 after a final round 64.

The problem has been putting together four great rounds, and his 77 on Friday proved to be his undoing this time around.

McIlroy retained hopes of making a run on Saturday and getting into the mix if he could get hot early: but those hopes took an early hit when he pushed his tee shot on No.1 into a fairway bunker and missed a five-foot par putt.

He would rebound to make three birdies and a bogey, and said afterwards it was hard to complain about his score.

It wasn't as though McIlroy didn't have his moments on Saturday.

One of those came when he blasted a wind-aided tee shot 380 yards on No.9 that ran through the pedestrian crosswalk before slowly rolling back down the hill, shortening the overall distance.

But he missed far too many greens and didn't sink nearly enough putts.

"I just needed to get some rhythm (on Friday)," McIlroy said.

"It was so stop-start and I didn't have any fluidity in my golf swing because of that. As the wind is coming down you start getting out of sync."

Things could be worse.

McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters altogether in 2021 and 2023 and said his remaining target for 2024 was to, "Shoot a good round of golf and move on".

But when he returns to Augusta National next April he knows he'll have to answer those same irritating questions about when - or if - he will win the Masters and complete that elusive career grand slam.

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