World No 2 Rory McIlroy continued his low key preparations for the Masters Tournament with a hush-hush visit to Augusta National on Wednesday.
The 22-year old, who led the tournament by four shots entering last year’s final round only to collapse to a nightmare 80, played a quiet 18 holes and was accompanied on his journey by his caddie JP Fitzgerald.
Apart from a media conference to promote the new EA Sports video game on Tuesday, the reigning US Open champion has been keeping a low profile as he prepares to take care of what he has described as “unfinished business” next week.
According to our sources, McIlroy appeared to “really enjoy” being back at Augusta though there was no information forthcoming about what happened when he stood on the 10th tee, scene of the hooked tee shot that led to a triple bogey seven and a rapid unravelling of his green jacket aspirations last year.
“When I get to the 10th tee for the first time,” McIlroy said at the Honda Classic, “I will obviously think a little bit about what happened there 12 months ago. But only for a little while. I may take a sneaky look over to where I was.
“Hopefully, this year, I won’t see those cabins quite so close up! I don’t look at it as revenge really. It would just be great to put myself in a position to win again. And, if I can do that, it will be great to see if I can handle things a little bit better!”
McIlroy went on to win the Honda Classic and go to world No 1 for the first time in his career before Luke Donald regained top spot with his win at the Transitions Championship a fortnight later.
Having reached the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play and then followed his Honda win by threatening to steal the WGC-Cadillac Championship with a final round charge, McIlroy has been recharging and preparing at his Jupiter base.
He has rented a sumptuous mansion overlooking the Loxahatchee River - seven-bedroomed according to Golf.com but ‘just’ five-bedroomed according to our sources.
Either way he’s been practicising and training in between trips to Miami to watch girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki compete in the Sony Ericsson Open.
He returned there on Thursday with his parents, only to see the Dane lose 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.
His next public appearance will come at Augusta National next Tuesday, where he will give his media conference at 9.30 am (1430 Irish time).