McIlroy not frightened of Augusta - or Tiger

Fearless Rory McIlroy believes he can smash Tiger Woods’ record and become the youngest Masters champion in history.

The Holywood ace, 19, insisted that he’s not here to make up the numbers and knows that if things go his way he has the game to win the green jacket at the first attempt.

Woods broke the dream barrier when he won the 1997 Masters by 12 shots aged 21. And McIlroy sees no reason why he can’t do the same.

Leading a trio of teen pretenders this week, McIlroy grew up watching Woods on TV and unlike the older players, he's inspired, not intimidated.

"I think the guys that are playing in Tiger's era, I've seen them do all of these things and play in the same tournaments as him, and maybe thought this guy is almost unbeatable; where, you know, the likes of myself and Danny and Ryo have seen him on TV.

"You know, we can relate to him in a way, especially that first Masters. He was only 21 and you could sort of relate to someone that age. You were think to go yourself, 'Well, hopefully when I'm that age, I can do something like that'.

“It was definitely inspirational to see someone come out and make such a great start to their professional career. That's what I've always wanted to do.

“If I can play well enough this week, I might be able to emulate it.”

McIlroy has been a pro for just 19 months but he doesn’t feel like a star-struck teenager and he’s determined to give it everything he’s got.

And he insisted that he is not scared by anything or overawed by the mythical Georgia track.

Speaking like a veteran, he said: “I‘'m not really one to get overwhelmed by much these days for some reason, don't know why.

“Obviously I'm really excited to be here, don't get me wrong. But I want to try and get the most out of this week as possible. So you can't really be in awe of anything.

“I'm not one to get overwhelmed by much. I just go about my business and play my golf, and if it's good enough, then so be it. “

Nine time Major winner Gary Player believes that golf’s young guns must aim to win the career Grand Slam before they are 22 with McIlroy leading the charge.

He said: “I won the Grand Slam at 29. If you think of Tiger Woods, to digress for a minute. I won the Grand Slam at 29 and I thought, wow, and I wanted to beat Jack Nicklaus to do that so badly and I did it.

“And Jack comes along and wins it at 26 and Tiger wins it at 24. So Rory must now say to himself, look, you must use Tiger as a role model and raising the bar.”

McIlroy believes he has matured immensely over the past 19 months and feels ready to contend.

He said: “Playing on Tour at such an early age, I don't feel like a 19-year-old. Obviously I am, but I feel like I've matured very quickly since coming on Tour, and I'm sure Danny and Ryo will tell you the same thing.”

He was mobbed by autograph hunters as he started his practice round with Ollie Wilson and Masters winner Mike Weir.

“I was impressed with him," Weir said. "I think he’s got tons of game, and I love his attitude. I think he’s going to be really good. He’s already really good.”