Of course, McIlroy CAN win at Augusta. His lowest round there is 65 and he has managed 12 rounds of 70 or less in the 34 he has played.
Extend that range to a round that’s simply under par and it becomes 22.
Although you can get away without being a prodigious driver at The Masters, it doesn’t hurt either – particularly on the par 5s which offer someone like Rory obvious eagle chances.
His long right-to-left ball flight is perfect for the course and, although driving accuracy sees him way down the list on the PGA Tour stats, I prefer to use strokes gained off the tee as my guide.
Here, he is gaining more than half a shot on his competitors.
In the past, Rory was always becalmed by a disastrous round. For the 80 in 2011, you could also add a 77 in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. Let’s hope this is merely a coincidence for 2018.
A couple of weeks ago, you may even have ruled McIlroy out on the strength – or weakness actually – of his putting alone.
But a meeting with Brad Faxon had a remarkable impact at Bay Hill where he led the field in strokes gained in the category.
In Arnie’s event, it was strokes gained approaching the green (13th), and around the green (20th), where McIlroy really took off in comparison with the rest of his season.
That’s a timely boost given how important hitting the right spots on greens and scrambling is at Augusta.
I feel much of McIlroy’s issues at The Masters are mental and not based around form at all.
When the pressure has been off, he has carded a final round under 70 in four of his last five attempts.
Conversely, his best opening round since 2011 was the 70 he recorded two years ago.
If he can get off to a good start, and not allow the enormity of the grand slam to cloud his performance, then clearly he could finally get his hands on the green jacket.
At the prices, however, and given the mental block that has paralysed him here in recent years, there are others I’d be backing in the outright market before turning my attention Rory’s way.