Rory relaxed at Masters, says British Amateur champ

Mon Apr 6, 2015 4:07pm EDT
 
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By Larry Fine

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy may have a lot riding on this week's Masters but his 19-year-old practice partner at Augusta National on Monday said the Northern Irishman seemed free and easy.

British Amateur champion Bradley Neil said you would not know that McIlroy, 25, gets his first chance to complete the career grand slam this week at the year's opening major.

"He's had it probably on his mind the last few months. He's just a normal person, that's the thing. He's just so down to earth and a great guy," the Scotsman told reporters under the oak tree in front of the stately Augusta National clubhouse.

"You would think he's in a situation I'm in, just here trying to soak up all the experience. You wouldn't think he was the major contender."

McIlroy would join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won all of golf's major professional championships should he add the Masters to his U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship titles.

But despite a chance to join that exclusive club only days away, Neil said playing with McIlroy on Monday was like hanging out with a buddy.

"I was able to speak with him about a load of different things. I'm 19 and he's just six years older and we talked about a load of stuff like girls and things like that," said Neil.

"It just shows how strong mentally he is ... to see how calm he is on the course about everything.   Continued...

 
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland runs down the 11th fairway during his practice round ahead of the 2015 Masters at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia April 6, 2015.  REUTERS/Phil Noble