Published: Fri, May 04, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Rory McIlroy in the mix again at Quail Hollow

Rory McIlroy in the mix again at Quail Hollow

RORY MCILROY GOT off to a promising start as he bids to celebrate his birthday with a Quail Hollow hat-trick. He had a legitimate chance to complete the career Grand Slam last month at Augusta, where he entered the final round just three shots behind Patrick Reed. The Ulsterman has declared the Masters as "the biggest tournament in the world and I'm comfortable saying that", relegating The Open to the lower rungs of the podium. "That sounds really bad".

"Now, I think after everything that's happened over the past 50 years and the improvements that Augusta makes year on year, I feel like the amount of time between the last major of the season, the first major of the season, the hype, the eyeballs, the everything, I think it's just a slight - it's just a notch above the other ones".

"Once I sort of got back into my routine, I was fine", said McIlroy.

"All of a sudden I'm just looking out like, wow, I can see everything", Reed said. "It was disappointing that's the way the week finished". "I thought it was because I was getting underneath it".

The 28-year old was three shots behind leader Patrick Reed going into Sunday at the Masters, but failed to challenge as a final round 74 saw him finish six shots behind in a tie for fifth place.

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Fearing a little rust early on after a three-week break, McIlroy began instead with a morale-boosting birdie as he compiled a score that left him just a shot off the early lead held by Englishman Tyrrell Hatton and American journeyman Peter Malnati.

McIlroy said in the days that followed he spent time replaying bad shots in his head.

"I didn't mean it like that at all", McIlroy told reporters. With play winding down for the day, Wagner sits two back as John Peterson rallied late in the day to post a 6-under 65.

Vaulting himself into early contention was exactly what McIlroy needed after his Masters shortcomings. The Quail Hollow Club member received a sponsor's invite, allowing him to play in a home game this week. That's when he's most engaged in what he's doing on the golf course.

He binge-watched "Billions." He read a couple of books: "The Chimp Paradox" and "Essentialism".

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