Rory McIlroy believes juggling and meditation can help him win the Masters and complete the career grand slam.
McIlroy needs a victory at Augusta National to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having claimed all four major titles.
The 29-year-old has finished inside the top 10 on each of his last four starts and was in the last group in the final round 12 months ago, only to struggle to a closing 74 and end up six shots behind playing partner Patrick Reed.
That means his best chance to win also remains his worst memory of Augusta, namely when he squandered a four-shot lead in 2011 with a final-round collapse.
Everyone always picks the Butler Cabin picture when they think about Rory's 2011 collapse, but this from 13 tee is the one I think about the most. It's one of the most human golf pics every taken, I think. pic.twitter.com/9YgRBfQL2P— Kevin Van Valkenburg (@KVanValkenburg) 8 April 2018
Interview with Michael Brown
However, there is also no question that McIlroy is in some of the best form of his career after following five consecutive top-six finishes with victory in the Players Championship.
And the four-time major winner has revealed how meditation, juggling and a wide variety of reading material helped him end a number of final-day failures and triumph at Sawgrass.
“I’m not going to go and live with the monks for a couple months in Nepal, it’s 10 minutes a day,” McIlroy side in a fascinating pre-tournament interview. “It’s not as if I’m being consumed by it.
“But it’s definitely something that has helped from time to time. Especially in situations where you need your mind to be right. I meditated for 20 minutes on the Sunday morning of the Players.
Rory McIlroy broke his drought of 364 days without a pro tournament win at The Players Championship. pic.twitter.com/PhMY1aFAxe— Golfweek (@golfweek) 18 March 2019
“My routine now consists of meditation, juggling, mind training, you know, doing all the stuff to get yourself in the right place. It was actually cool. I was watching the [Augusta National] Women’s Amateur over the weekend and I saw a few women on the range juggling, so it’s catching on.”
In juggling terms McIlroy insists he is a “rookie” who can only manage three balls at a time, but when it comes to the Masters he has plenty of experience of Augusta National.
However, he has also come to accept that winning a green jacket and completing the career grand slam is not the be all and end all of his career.
“This is my 11th year here,” the Northern Irishman added. “If I haven’t figured it out by now, there’s something wrong. I’m very comfortable with this golf course. I think one of the great things about this course is it forces you to be creative and I like that side of the game. I like to see shots. I like to visualise.
“The massive tall pines, the contrast between the green grass and the white bunkers, the yellow flagsticks, there are so many things to look at and be aware of and it paints a picture for you.
“And I know I’ve played well enough and I’ve shot enough good scores around here over the years that if I can put my best effort forward, I’m going to have a good chance to do well here.
“But it’s definitely different (this year). I’m not getting ahead of myself. Not thinking about the tee shot on Thursday or thinking about what is to come this week and that’s something I probably will never stop trying to learn or to practice. But I’m in a good place with it.
“Again, you know, I keep saying this, I would dearly love to win this tournament one day. If it doesn’t happen this week, that’s totally fine, I’ll come back next year and have another crack at it. But I’m happy with where everything is, body, mind, game.”