Immelman has Masters tips for McIlroy

Masters champion Trevor Immelman has advised Rory McIlroy to go grey before he goes for green jacket glory at Augusta National.

The South African, 29, is seriously impressed by McIlroy’s rapid rise to a career high 35th in the latest world rankings after less than 500 days in the pro ranks.

And he’s urging the Holywood hotshot, 19, to seek help from veteran Masters winners as well as the big stars when he arrives for his Augusta debut in April.

After watching McIlroy share fifth place with Padraig Harrington in Abu Dhabi, Immelman said: "It doesn't seem like he needs much advice because he's already pretty damn good

“Looks like the sky the limit for him and he's going to be a great player one day so he just needs to be patient.

"I've played with him a couple of times and he is very impressive. He's got a very carefree attitude to the game and I think that is good.

"But it's tough to go to Augusta for the first time and figure it all out the first time. It definitely gives you goose bumps and that's for sure.

"So my advice would be to seek out some past champions who are maybe in the 50s or late 40s who would otherwise not be qualified for the event.

“Those are the guys who are going there who will have a real bunch of information to give.”

Now ranked ahead of fellow Ulstermen Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, McIlroy has already arranged to play a practice round with stable mate Ernie Els at Augusta.

But Immelman believes a veteran Masters champion would have more time to help Ireland’s rising star.

Immelman said: “There's no doubt that Ernie will be a help. I've known Ernie since I was five years old so I was very fortunate that I could be in that position where he could answer all my questions.

"I played with Ernie every day in '99 and played with Gary Player one day and then ended up playing with Gary in the tournament too.

“But you just have to find the right guys to give you the information because a lot of times in my experience if you play practice rounds with guys are 100 percent in contention to win, they are real focussed on their game and in their practice rounds and trying to figure out their thing."

Immelman took advantage of his 1999 invite to play the course several times over the winter so he would not be overawed when he turned up for the tournament proper.

McIlroy has no plans to get to Augusta early and Immelman reckons it does not make a whole lot of difference anyway as the mystique of the place never goes away.

Immelman said: “I went at the end of January and I spent a week there and played the course every day and that was fantastic for me as a 19-year old to go and do that.

"There is nothing like Augusta National when you walk out on the course and see all the grass and all the cabins down the left side of 10.

“It's like walking on the first tee of the Old Course. It's just something and there is nothing like it anywhere.

“There is an awe factor to be overcome, yes, but don't think you ever get over it really.  I've played six Masters and every time you go there it's just so incredible and fascinating.

"So you have just got to enjoy part of that.  We are very fortunate to be playing in that tournament and it's just like playing an Open at the Old Course.

“It's something that you will remember for the rest of your career.  So you have to go there and be to sure to enjoy the week as well."