Rory McIlroy doesn’t want to fizzle out before he’s 30 and believe he must “get a move on” and add to his major tally before time runs out.
The Holywood star turns 29 in four weeks’ time and after going four years without a major win he feels the clock is ticking
Set to begin his chase his fifth major and that elusive green jacket alongside Spain’s Jon Rahm (23) and 2013 winner Adam Scott (37) today, McIlroy said his ambition is to win more major and “just keep adding to the list.”
He told NBC's Mike Tirico: “I don't want to be the guy who fizzled out before he was 30 and not win another major. I want to make the most of these years that I have.
“I want to put my name alongside the likes of Tiger, Jack, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan.
“But I know I need to get a move on — I haven't won a major in the last four years.
“If you look at the history books and look the other guys that have been very successful, everyone sort of has them a 10-year span.
“My first one was in '11 so hopefully, that 10-year span can go a little bit longer. I realise that this is the time that I need starting making hay and going for it.”
McIlroy is attempting to become just the sixth player in the history of the modern game to win all four majors, joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as one of the game’s immortals.
Far from trying to deflect attention away from what would be a momentous achievement, he’s happy to embrace the challenge, insisting: “You have to. You have to embrace it. You can't shy away from something that's staring right at you.
“I know if I achieve the career Grand Slam, it's a list of five guys, ever in this game which is so cool.”
Asked a Masters win would mean to him, he paused for a moment and ventured: “Everything?”
The Co Down man had a four-stroke lead entering the final round at Augusta National in 2011 but crashed to an 80 and ended up tied for 15th.
He admits he was fighting “demons” when he returned in 2012 and trailed home 40th behind Bubba Watson.
But he insists he now feels far more comfortable at the course and followed a 25th place finish in 2013 with four consecutive top 10s.
He said: “I am very comfortable. I really am. It took me a few years. I think the best chance that I had in ’11, I was still uncomfortable and that was apparent on Sunday.
“I definitely had my demons going to back to Augusta after '11. You have to get over it and I have played pretty well since that point.”
Now a married man, McIlroy believes he’s happier than he’s ever been, comfortable in his own skin and back to full fitness after last year’s injury problems.
“I feel like I am in a really good place right now,” he said. “And when you feel you are in that space, it allows you to concentrate 100 percent on being that golfer you want to be and being successful and being as prepared as you possibly can to win each and every event that you go to.”
He has a chance to make history at Augusta National but he does not believe he will be distracted by the enormity of the challenge.
He said: “Any time that I have been in contention for a major I haven't been thinking about history. I have been thinking about shooting the best score to win this golf tournament and then let it sink in later.”
Grand Slam winners
25 years Jack Nicklaus (1962–1986);
20 years Gary Player (1959–1978)
14 years Gene Sarazen (1922–1935)
12 years Tiger Woods (1997–2008),
9 years Ben Hogan (1946–1953);
9 years Tom Watson (1975–1983);
7 years Arnold Palmer (1958–1964)
22 years John Henry Taylor (1894–1913)
19 years Harry Vardon (1896–1914),
10 years Nick Faldo (1987 to 1996)
10 years Seve Ballesteros (1979–1988);
10 years James Braid (1901–1910)
9 years Bernhard Langer (1985–1993)
6 years Jose Maria Olazábal (1994–1994)
5 years Martin Kaymer (2010–2014)
4 years Sandy Lyle (1985–1988)
4 years Rory McIlroy (2011–2014)
2 years Pádraig Harrington (2007-2008)