Golf

Block out the baggage and Rory McIlroy can complete career slam – Curtis Strange

This month’s Masters gives McIlroy the chance to capture the only major missing from his collection.

Rory McIlroy needs to win the Masters to complete a career grand slam
Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy needs to win the Masters to complete a career grand slam (Richard Sellers/PA)

Rory McIlroy has been urged to block out all distractions to deal with the “baggage” associated with his attempts to win the Masters and complete a career grand slam.

The advice came from two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange as McIlroy prepares to contest this week’s Valero Texas Open before heading to Augusta National for the first major of the year.

Strange believes that will help McIlroy keep his mind off what he will be trying to achieve at Augusta and recounted a recent conversation with top psychologist Bob Rotella, who has worked with McIlroy on the mental side of the game.

“Bob said the main thing for Rory next week is to stay calm and cool,” Strange said in an ESPN teleconference.

“He had this phrase ‘the mind has to be stronger than the swing’ and I think in Rory’s case that is exactly right because he does have some baggage coming in here.

“He knows he could have won here a couple of times, but he knows he has the game as well.

“So do what you know how to do. Play your own game, play smart, play a little more conservative golf around Augusta and then on Sunday afternoon, if the chips fall, he’ll be in contention.

Two-time US Open winner Curtis Strange has offered Rory McIlroy some advice ahead of the Masters
Curtis Strange Two-time US Open winner Curtis Strange has offered Rory McIlroy some advice ahead of the Masters (Tom Hevezi/PA)

“One of the best stories I have ever heard is when Claude Harmon was the pro at Winged Foot when the US Open was there.

“They played a practice round with [Ben] Hogan, who said ‘Claude, you have a chance this week if you look at the grass all week long’. Meaning don’t make eye contact with friends, don’t speak to everybody.

“I think that relates to Rory next week. He’s been coming in here for so long with so much on his mind that it’s all about you next week, Rory. It’s all about what you can do, your game.”