March 17 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has won four of the five biggest events in golf after his one-stroke victory at the Players Championship in Florida on Sunday and is slowly turning his sights on the fifth — next month’s Masters at Augusta National.
A victory at the April 11-14 tournament would make him the sixth man to complete the modern grand slam of all four majors — the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship — and the second this century after Tiger Woods.
McIlroy, who won his last major in 2014, has had four cracks at completing the grand slam, but he has never gone to Augusta with quite the sort of consistent form he has displayed in 2019.
The Northern Irishman had not finished worse than sixth in five starts and he finally closed the deal on St. Patrick’s Day at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach.
He also vaulted to fourth in the world rankings, his highest position in almost 18 months, and collected more than $2 million for the victory, but it did not take long for talk to turn to another type of green, namely the Green Jacket.
“If I go to Augusta with a similar golf game to what I have now and the attitude I’ve shown over the first few weeks of the year, I think I’ll have a great chance,” he told reporters.
If nothing else, Sunday’s victory will silence the critics who had observed that McIlroy for all his consistency had appeared to have lost the closer’s instinct, having not won for almost a year.
“Even with some noise around me, ‘he can’t close, he can’t plays on Sundays’, blah, blah, blah, I’ve just got to do my thing,” he said.
“And if I go and I concentrate on me, control what I can do, good golf and good attitude takes care of the rest.
“(But) I don’t want to look too far ahead.
“I really want to enjoy this. I’ve actually got an interior design meeting tomorrow morning to pick out some stuff for our new house, so that’s the next port of call.
“I’ll turn my attention to what’s coming up in a few days’ time.” (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)