McIlroy to motor up Magnolia Lane

Masters bound Rory McIlroy has treated himself to a brand new motor after racing to world No 39.

And paying for the €100,000 Audi will be no problem for the Holywood idol, 19, who has earned a massive €1.1 million this year and €812,000 in the last four months alone.

While the car will remain at home in Co Down, Ireland’s teen star reckons he will have cruised up Magnolia Lane a few times in his dreams before he does it for real in April.

After jumping 193 places in the world this year to earn his Masters debut, McIlroy just can’t wait to tee it up at the Cathedral of Pines.

Looking ahead to Augusta, he said: “I reckon I'll be playing a few rounds at Augusta in my sleep before I actually get there.

“It's got a mystique.  You never really know what to expect when you get there.  It's just going to be absolutely fantastic.

“I've watched it so many years on TV and to actually get there and play, it's going to be great. It’s unbelievable.  It's going to be great, driving up Magnolia Lane.

“I'm absolutely over the moon about this - it's a tournament I've watched on telly every year and to actually play in it will be a dream come true.

“I’ve lots of memories of watching the Masters but the highlights were probably Tiger in '97, beating everyone by 12.  Or Nick Faldo and Greg Norman in '96.  Probably Faldo and Norman, actually."

A fan to flash cars, he added: “I always promised myself that if I got in the top 50 I would treat myself to a new car and I'm now the very proud owner of an Audi S5 in black with every extra imaginable. The insurance isn't very nice, but it's worth it.”

At 19 years and 11 months, McIlroy won’t be the youngest competitor of the modern era to qualify for the Masters.

South Korean amateur Sung Yoon Kim was 17 years, 10 months when he made his debut in 2000.

But the Ulster ace will still be a month younger than Seve Ballesteros was when he first teed it up there in 1977 after racking up seven top 10s, including two play-off defeats, in his last 10 starts.

Reflecting on his stellar season, McIlroy said: "I never thought that I would have done so much. All I wanted to do was get into the Volvo Masters and get in the Top‑100 in the world, and I've done so much more than that this year.

“It's just absolutely fantastic that I've achieved what I have, and obviously I’m looking forward to next year."

McIlroy had an inconsistent start to the season, missing nine of 18 cuts before racking up an incredible seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 events.

His run started when he led from start to finish in September’s Omega European Masters at Crans but bogeyed the last when he needed a par to win and then missed a tiddler in the play-off to hand the title to Jean Francois Lucquin.

But he turned that loss into a positive, finishing fourth in the Singapore Open and only losing in a play-off for the Hong Kong Open to become the youngest player to make the world’s top 50.

Asked for his highlight of the year, McIlroy said: “Probably Switzerland.  I definitely should have won that tournament, but I took a lot from the way I played, all four days.

“I led it from start to finish basically but I took a lot from that and I've learned a lot from that.  It was a great learning week but also I felt in love with Crans there, and it was definitely the highlight of the year there.”

McIlroy will start 2009 ranked sixth in the Race to Dubai and certain to play all next year’s Majors and World Golf Championships providing he remains in the top-50.

He said: “It's just been fantastic.  I never thought that I would have done so much. All I wanted to do was get into the Volvo Masters and get in the Top‑100 in the world, and I've done so much more than that this year.”

The Ulster kid will spend Christmas with his parents Gerry and Rosie at his Co Down bachelor pad.

He said: “It certainly promises to be an interesting day. My Mum's managed to dislocate her shoulder twice in the last month and is still recovering so that leaves me and Dad to cook the Christmas turkey.”