“You need to have a very short memory.”
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Rory McIlroy unravelled so spectacularly around the back nine of Augusta.
Leading by four shots heading into the final round of the 2011 Masters, McIlroy kept himself in contention during a nervy front-nine display before imploding around Amen Corner.
The Northern Irishman eventually signed for an 80 as he finished in a tie for 15th, 10 shots adrift of the winner Charl Schwartzel.
McIlroy’s relationship with Augusta has been complicated through the years. Since his meltdown in 2011, he has recorded six top-10 finishes but has never finished higher than fourth (in 2015).
The four-time major winner’s Masters career has been inexorably linked with those heartbreaking scenes 10 years ago, which makes it surprising that he does not consider it to be the lowest ebb of his Augusta journey.
Speaking to The Telegraph ahead of this year’s tournament, McIlroy said: “Sure, it [2011 collapse] hurt at the time — you can’t be four clear overnight, still be in contention at the turn, before taking a triple bogey on the 10th and struggling in with an 80, without it hurting.
McIlroy at the 2011 Masters.
“And there were parts of it that were low and certainly I felt low as it unravelled.
“But a real low is what happened the year before at The Masters — I missed the cut. Compare that to getting into contention and leading at the Masters.
“I was so close to doing something really great and when the fog clears you have to take that out of it. I’m big on taking the positives and moving on, but I’m also very big on the fact that you have to be a bit of a goldfish in golf. You need to have a very short memory.”
Introducing a brand-new series with one of golf’s greatest coaches: 𝗜𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝘀 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗣𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗻
In the first episode, @petecowengolf gives us an insight into teaming up with Rory McIlroy 🏌️
— Worldwide Golf (@WorldwideGolf) April 5, 2021
McIlroy seemingly views his missed cut in 2010 as more of a failure than his closing-stretch horror show a year later.
Of course, any doubts over the Holywood native’s major credentials after the 2011 Masters were emphatically answered when he cantered to an eight-shot victory at the US Open two months later.
“Those two months taught me so much for my career and for the journey I’ve been on and am still on,” he added.
“It gave me the lesson of resilience and how important that is, as is the awareness that you shouldn’t get too high during the highs and too low during the lows. That’ll always stand me in good stead.”
McIlroy comes into this year’s Masters on the back of a difficult start to 2021, which has included missed cuts at the Genesis Invitational and Players Championship, and a group-stage exit at the WGC-Matchplay in his last outing before Augusta.
The 31-year-old recently added renowned coach Pete Cowen to his team as he looks to recapture the scintillating form that produced two major triumphs in 2014.
As has been the case at every Masters tournament since 2015, McIlroy will become just the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam if he wins that elusive green jacket.