The Azaleas are back, the patrons are set to return, but one thing that remains the same is Rory McIlroy’s lifelong search for a green jacket. McIlroy is set to enter his 13th Masters after finishing T5 in the first ever Autumn Masters at Augusta last November, marking the sixth time McIlroy has finished inside the top 10 at the Masters.
The 85th installment of the Masters takes place from April 8th-11th and as the run-up to the 2021 tournament begins, an update to the McIlroy team has been announced.
According to Sky Sports News, the Northern Irish golfer has linked up with renowned English swing coach, Pete Cowen. New coach Cowen is known for teaching a large number of clients, such as Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Brooks Koepka.
The decision to enlist the services of Cowen comes as McIlroy has been struggling with his swing since developing flaws during ‘speed training’ sessions last year. McIlroy ranks 148th in driving accuracy, hitting the fairway 57.2% of the time. With driving accuracy at a premium at Augusta, the Northern Irishman will look to improve on that stat.
It has not yet been confirmed whether or not the 31-year-old will be parting completely with his coach Michael Bannon, who has been coaching him since he was 8-years-old. The head professional at Holywood Golf Club in Northern Ireland first met McIlroy while in that role. Bannon later left to work full-time with him in 2012. Bannon has not been seen at the last few tournaments.
With the Masters just around the corner, the last push is on for McIlroy as his pursuit of that elusive Green Jacket continues. The Masters remains the only one of golf’s four major titles that McIlroy has not won. McIlroy is determined to return to the winners circle after not having a win since the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions back in November 2019.
With competition high to claim the green jacket, World Number 3 Jon Rahm is one heavy favourite to claim his first major championship. Rahm and his wife, Kelley, are expecting their first baby between April 10 and 12. Although a favourite, Rahm has advised bettors to think twice about including him in their picks, as he has vowed to be present for the birth, even if he has to leave mid-tournament.
Justin Thomas and last year’s winner Dustin Johnson are also favourites to come out on top at the Augusta National this year. Dustin Johnson finished the 2020 Masters at 20 under par. Johnson set a tournament record that is two strokes better than the previous tournament record set by Tiger woods firstly in 1997 and tied by Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Johnson also set a Masters record last year with only four bogeys, the fewest ever by a Masters winner, so he is definitely the man to beat this year.
Image Credit: PGA Tour