Rory McIlroy expects Augusta National to prove equal to the test and not succumb to Bryson DeChambeau’s power game in The Masters this week.
Much was made of DeChambeau’s strength and length off the tee as he stormed to a six-shot victory at the US Open back in September.
But McIlroy insists he has no concerns over where the game of golf is going after pointing to other statistics relating to DeChambeau’s success at Winged Foot.
“I don’t share that concern [about what the future holds],” he said. “If you look at Bryson’s strokes gained numbers at the US Open, strokes gained around the green and strokes gained putting was better than strokes gained off the tee. He did drive it really well, but at the same time you need to back that up with all other aspects of your game.
“If trophies were handed out just for how far you hit it and how much ball speed you have, then I’d be worried. But there’s still a lot of different aspects that you need to master in this game.
“But look, I can see this being quite a low‑scoring week, but that’s just because of the way the golf course is, it’s a little softer, it’s November. It’s going to play a little differently.
“I still think this golf course provides enough of a challenge to challenge the best players in the world.”
McIlroy, 31, enjoyed an excellent run at the end of last year and early this year which saw him move to the top of the world rankings in February.
But he has not hit the same heights since the restart and is down to fifth in the world rankings, meaning he is now slightly under the radar ahead of The Masters with DeChambeau grabbing most of the headlines.
“I do prefer that, I like it,” he said. “I’ve always liked sort of doing my own thing and trying to stay as low‑key as possible. Sometimes the way I’ve played over the years, that hasn’t happened because I’ve won some tournaments and I’ve been on some pretty good runs at times.
“But I don’t mind this. This is nice. It feels like everything this year, it’s more subdued, it’s more relaxed. That’s the feel for me, anyway.
“Obviously Bryson is going to be feeling a little different because the attention is on him and deservedly so coming off the back of a major win and basically disrupting the game of golf over the last few months. It’s a big story, and I’m just as intrigued as everyone else to see how that unfolds.”
McIlroy, who is once again chasing a career Grand Slam this week, admits he has not been at his best playing with no crowds since the restart, but was encouraged by his performance last time when he tied for 17th place at the ZoZo Championship.
“Look, the game feels pretty good,” added the Northern Irishman. “Before the world changed in March, I was playing pretty good. I got to No 1 in the world, was playing pretty consistent golf, and then after we came back out of the lockdown, there’s been really good stuff in there, but there’s been some lacklustre stuff, too, lapses of concentration. You know, sometimes feeling like you’re out there and it doesn’t really count.
“It’s been an adjustment to get used to, but we’ve been in it now for a few months, and feel like it’s maybe took me a little longer to adjust than some people, but this is the way it’s going to be for a while.
“They are still handing out trophies at the end of every week, so you may as well try and play as hard as possible for them.”
Watch The Masters this week live on Sky Sports, with all four rounds exclusively live on Sky Sports’ Masters channel. Live coverage beings with Featured Groups from 12.30pm on Thursday.
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