Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

McIlroy's in the Mood but Scott Is Also Feeling Good

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

McIlroy's in the Mood but Scott Is Also Feeling Good

Article excerpt

Byline: Kevin Garside Golf Correspondent at Augusta

IN the absence of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy heads the betting to win the Masters for the first time.

Though he has yet to triumph this year, the horrors of 2013 are firmly behind him. He has posted three top--10s in the five PGA Tour events played this year, including a second at the Honda Classic. He says he has never been in better shape, mentally, technically or physically, boasting a personal best squat lift of 130kg last week.

"There are no excuses if I don't play well," he said. "Everything's in the right place to allow me to do that. So it's just a matter of managing my expectations, not getting ahead of myself, not thinking about Sunday when it's Friday afternoon, trying to take it one shot at a time and, hopefully, those shots add up to about 270 on Sunday and I walk away with a green jacket."

Only three people have retained one of those, Jack Nicklaus, Woods and Sir Nick Faldo. Now Adam Scott, having become the first Australian to win the Masters, says he is ready to join the exclusive club that came back to successfully defend it.

Last time out at Bay Hill he went into the weekend seven shots clear. Though he didn't win, his final day collapse was more to do with concentration than mental frailty. Three weeks honing his game in the Bahamas has, he claims, brought him to a fresh peak.

"The game was there at Bay Hill," Scott said. "Hopefully, I've sharpened it up a little since then. I'm definitely feeling a lot more comfortable around this course, especially after winning. The confidence you take from that helps. I don't know why there are only a couple who have repeated their performances but I'd like to add my name to that list this week."

The American heart is set, as ever, on Phil Mickelson. The three--time winner broke his Major duck here 10 years ago and counts the Masters as his favourite tournament. After an injury scare that saw him withdraw from the Texas Open a fortnight ago he proved his fitness with a top 10--finish in Houston last week. …

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