s Woods tested his fitness on the Augusta slopes on Tuesday, the Holywood star played his second round of practice in as many days, exploring the course changes alone.
“I think for golf and for the Masters tournament and everyone it would be phenomenal to have Tiger there,” McIlroy said ahead of the Valero Texas Open, which Graeme McDowell needs to win to reach the Masters. “I think it just adds to the event.”
After watching Woods (right) undergo spinal fusion in 2017 and returning to win his fifth green jacket in 2019, McIlroy knows he will never write off the 15-time grand prize winner.
“The sheer will and perseverance, yes, it’s incredible,” he said. “If he comes back from it, it’s just that he likes proving people wrong, he likes proving himself wrong I think.”
McIlroy was pleased with the changes at Augusta, particularly the hardened 11th and 15th courses and the new greens at third, 13th and 17th.
“The area around the green is a lot more punishable, so that kind of save to the right is a lot harder than it used to be,” he said of the par-4 11, which is 15 yards longer at 520 yards. “Overall I think it will play harder than in previous years and it was already one of the toughest holes on the course.”
Iron play, distance control and one-six-foot puts are elements he plans to test under pressure at TPC San Antonio, where he finished runner-up in 2013.
“It’s a really good guide to see where my game is, especially when you need to hit shots under pressure to try and win a golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “That’s when things start to stand out and things that might need work on.”
It’s already big time on the LPGA Tour and Leona Maguire is happy that she completed her prep work weeks ago for the Chevron Championship at Mission Hills Country Club in California, where she will be joined by Stephanie Meadow.
Maguire is quietly inclined to compete, but the hot favorite is 2019 winner and world number one Jin Young Ko, who has won in four of her last six starts.
Meanwhile, Castlewarden’s Lauren Walsh finished with a birdie four to open with a four-over-76 in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur at Champions Retreat.
After today’s second round, which qualifies for Saturday’s final at Augusta National, where the full field will complete a practice round tomorrow, she finished 40th, six strokes behind clubhouse leader Benedetta Moresco (70) of Italy in the top 30 .
On the Ladies European Tour, Olivia Mehaffey opened with a two-over-74 at the Investec South African Women’s Open in Steenberg and tied for 30th place, six strokes behind Argentina’s Magdalena Simmermacher.
Meanwhile, Paul Dunne is returning from a Covid-19 absence for the Challenge Tour’s Limpopo Championship in South Africa, where he will be joined by Tom McKibbin, John Murphy and Richard O’Donovan.
In amateur golf, the men’s team of Robert Moran (73), Hugh Foley (77), Liam Nolan (77) and Peter O’Keeffe (79) sit fifth with 11 overs, six strokes behind France and Spain in the European Nations Championship at the Real Club de Golf Sotogrande.
In the women’s, Beth Coulter (75), Aideen Walsh (84) and Kate Lanigan (84) are eighth with 15 overs, 11 shots behind Germany.
Valero Texas Open. Sky Sports Golf (9 p.m.)
Chevron Championship, Sky Sports’ flagship event (11:55 p.m.)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/golf/for-golf-and-masters-to-have-tiger-would-be-phenomenal-rory-mcilroy-41505517.html “For golf and Masters, Tiger would be phenomenal” – Rory McIlroy