Rory McIlroy won’t be pushing any panic buttons following his missed cut in the Honda Classic.
But if the world No 3. or anyone else, thinks that winning the Masters will be easier because there will be less focus on him and more on Jordan Spieth, he’s clearly mistaken.
At least, that’s the view of Jack Nicklaus, who insists that there is no magic formula to playing Augusta National or winning the Masters.
As Adam Scott won the Honda Classic with a conventional putter to move back to world No 9 revive his name as another possible rival for McIlroy at the Masters, Nicklaus pointed out that the Holywood star (or anyone who wants to win green jacket) has to learn to play just six keys shots well.
“He’s still got to play,” Nicklaus said of McIlroy having less pressure than Spieth. “He’s still got to shoot the lowest score. Just because you guys are going to write about it, it has nothing to do with what he thinks about it.
“He’s going into Augusta trying to win the golf tournament. That’s what he’s going to Augusta for. Whether you guys are talking about it being easier because of Jordan, that’s silly. It’s what you guys have to do. You guys have to fill up space.”
The Golden Bear has had long chats about the game with McIlroy but he insisted they have not spoken at length about how to play Augusta National.
“I don’t think I have ever talked to Rory much about playing that course,” the six-time Masters winner explained. “The only thing you have got to do is hit it long and straight and putt well. Make a few chips when you don’t quite make it. That’s all you do on any golf course.
“There is no real mystery to it. It’s just how you do it. Don’t do the foolish stuff. Most people ask me and there are about six tough shots at Augusta. Don’t try to do things you really aren’t comfortable with and you say, man I got away with that.
“Then the next day, you decide to try and get away with it again and that’s when you lose the golf tournament. You keep your discipline.”
McIlroy has a mixed record at Trump National Doral, finishing tied 20th, tied 10th, third, tied eighth, tied 25th and tied ninth in six appearances since 2009.
But Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry are hoping for big performances in Miami after contrasting weeks in the Honda Classic.
McDowell finished a fine solo fifth and jumped 18 places to 55th in the world, securing his place in the top 64 in the world who will play the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas a fortnight before Augusta.
But he’s not getting ahead of himself as he bids to return to golf’s top table despite hailing Sunday’s result as “huge” for his career.
“For me at the minute it means allowing myself the time to find my way back into leaderboards and the upper echelons of the game again," McDowell said. "It is not going to happen overnight.
“It will require a lot of grinding and maybe some mistakes but if I can keep doing what I am doing in practice, it can only start to feed onto the golf course again. I guess I am just giving myself time to let that happen.
“A course like this, and Doral, and Tampa, and Bay Hill, those are courses that don’t let you get ahead of yourself. Courses where a 63 is the going rate is not my kind of game. I like a course like this where I can shoot five or six under — for the week.”
On qualifying for the first WGC of the year via the Top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings, McDowell said: “It's big to be there with World Ranking points to play for on a course which I like. It’s one step in the right direction. We'll keep grinding.”
Lowry started well at the Honda Classic with a three under 67 but while he shot 69 on Saturday, five over 75s on Friday and Sunday were disappointing.
The Clara man would prefer to have off days in an event like the Honda Classic and that’s why he’s pacing himself for this week’s no-cut, World Golf Championship where there are huge world ranking and Ryder Cup qualifying points on offer.
“I said to (caddie) Dermot, we won’t have any trouble sleeping next Sunday night after four rounds on this course and four rounds at Doral," Lowry said at PGA National.
“Mentally you just have to be rested. Doral is just brutally tough as well. I suppose the golf course is scoreable but you really need to have your game and miss it in the right spots.”