McIlroy's grand slam bid sets up tasty Masters

Sun Apr 5, 2015 2:06pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - The prospect of a career grand slam for world number one Rory McIlroy and uncertainty over the state of Tiger Woods' game have dominated the build-up to this week's Masters at Augusta National.

Northern Irishman McIlroy will be bidding for his third consecutive victory in a major, and his first Green Jacket at the picturesque 'Cathedral of Pines' in Georgia, to complete a full set of all four of golf's blue riband events.

"I've got a chance to go to Augusta and do something very few players in this game have done before so that adds a little bit of spice to it," said McIlroy.

Four-times champion Woods, meanwhile, only decided on Friday to compete at Augusta National, having struggled badly in his two tournament starts this season.

"It's obviously very important to me and I want to be there," said Woods, who missed last year's Masters after being advised by doctors to have a microdiscectomy to repair a pinched nerve in his back.

"I've worked a lot on my game and I'm looking forward to competing."

He posted the highest score of his professional career, an 11-over-par 82, to miss the cut at the Phoenix Open in January, and withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines the following week after 11 holes because of tightness in his back.

The former world number one, who claimed the most recent of his 14 major titles at the 2008 U.S. Open, said he would not return to the PGA Tour until his game was "tournament-ready" and many pundits believe he is suffering from the chipping 'yips'.   Continued...

Mar 22, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the 1st during the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club & Lodge. Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports