Darren Clarke does not believe that predictions of multiple Masters wins will make it even harder Rory McIlroy to break his Masters duck..
The Ryder Cup skipper is just one of a long list of names — Tiger Woods included— who’s tipped the world No 1 to fill his wardrobe with green jackets.
But having been tipped as a future winner of multiple Claret Jugs from the start of his career, it took links specialist Clarke 20 attempts before he finally landed the Open at Royal St Georges in 2011.
Asked if expectations made winning it all the harder and whether the pressure to win the Masters could have a negative effect on McIlroy, Clarke shook his head and said: “I did win one and contended in a few others. But no, Rory is different. He is an especially talented kid and his all around game is that good and none more so than for here.
“He’s the best player in the world, isn’t he. He’s the world No 1. He knows what he is doing and as I have said before, if he doesn’t win it this time, his game is so ideally suited to this place that he is going to win it at some stage.
“That’s got to be comforting in itself to him. I think that may help relieve a little bit of the pressure because his game is so good. He hits that high draw, hits it so far and loves the place.”
Clarke sees Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson as the big danger men with Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and possibly Lee Westwood or Ian Poulter the best Europeans.
As for Shane Lowry, a potential Ryder Cup player in 2016, he said: “Shane has wonderful touch with that lobber around the greens and if anything, this place should suit him down to the ground.
“The short game here at Augusta National is massively important and Shane has got that. It will be interesting to see but he certainly has all the attributes needed to do well this week.”
As for Lowry’s future as a Ryder Cup player, he said: “Well, he’s got the opportunity like all the rest of the guys and certainly has enough talent to do it. Whether it is this one or the next one, we shall see.
“There will be a lot of guys going for those Ryder Cup spots as there always is.”