- The Augusta Chronicle - Tuesday, April 9, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy no longer holds golf’s top spot, but he says his better play of late has nothing to do with less pressure since losing the ranking to Tiger Woods.

Instead, he says, it’s about confidence and getting better on the tee shots. Now he’s focused on winning his first Masters Tournament. Any other result would be a disappointment.

“Every time you come here to Augusta, you’re wanting to win that green jacket, and every time that you don’t, it’s another chance missed, I guess,” McIlroy said. “The ultimate goal is getting one of those jackets.”

McIlroy, who arrived at Au­gusta on Sunday night and played the front nine Monday, called his play at Doral a turning point. Before that tournament, he walked off the course midway through the second round at the Honda Classic while 7-over par. But he then tied for eighth at Doral before finishing second at the Texas Open.

“I thought last week, it went really well — almost perfectly,” said McIlroy, whose best finish at the Masters was a tie for 15th in 2011, a year he led after each of the first three rounds. “I got what I wanted out of it in terms of playing more competitive golf, getting the scorecard in my hand, shooting scores. A bonus was getting into contention.”

McIlroy’s focus on preparing for this year’s Masters meant he had to postpone a humanitarian trip to Haiti, but he hopes to reschedule at some point.

He laughed off the notion of being a rival with Woods, saying the numbers show there is no real rivalry.

“If I saw myself as a rival to Tiger, I wouldn’t really be doing him much justice,” McIlroy said.

He confirmed that his girlfriend, tennis player Caro­line Wozniacki, will be his caddie for Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest.


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