Like many of us, Rory McIlroy spent some time last week watching Masters replays to fill the void for the missing real thing. And, like many of us, he takes solace in the fact that there is a 2020 Masters on the horizon, the tournament rescheduled for November 12-15. It’s a seven months away, but it’s something to look forward to.
It’s also something to get uniquely inspired about. While an autumn Masters will have a distinctive look and feel from anything we’ve seen at Augusta National, that contrast is something McIlroy believes he might benefit from.
“It’s going to be a different Masters,” said McIlroy during a Nike Golf Instagram Live feed on Sunday, “and personally, selfishly, maybe that’s what I need to get the [green] jacket.”
The 30-year-old four-time Major winner needs a Masters title to complete the career Grand Slam. In 11 career starts at Augusta National, he has five top-five finishes, nine top-25s and has missed the cut just once. It’s a solid record, but it’s one filled with some heartache over opportunities lost, most notably in 2011 and 2018. In his five attempts since winning the Masters meant finishing the career Slam, he has four of those five top-10s, but with each trip in which he fails to win, the pressure seems to increase.
“I feel like there’s anticipation going to Augusta the first big event of the year. There’s all this hype,” McIlroy said. “I don’t think it’ll feel like that this year, I think it’ll feel a little bit different, which I’m looking forward to.”
Of course, the biggest difference in a November Masters versus its traditional date will be the temperatures the players face. It’s not that there haven’t been cool, breezy Masters in April, but they will also have an impact on course conditions.
“November is going to be different. It’s going to be cold. The course can play very long. I mean, it plays long already, but it could play very long. The greens might not be as fast as they usually are in April, depending on the moisture,” McIlroy said. “Obviously, they can do whatever they want with the course with SubAir and everything, but I think it’ll be a different feel as well. It’s the back end of the year as two of the Majors have already been played – hopefully, the Ryder Cup’s already been played. People might be in their routines and in their flow a little bit.”
McIlroy’s record in the northern autumn is also fairly impressive. Nine of his 18 PGA Tour wins have come in August, September and November, and twice McIlroy has won the European Tour’s season finale in Dubai in November.