AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy may need to dial back his aggression and play more “Nicklaus-like” to taste victory at Augusta National, according to former British Open runner-up Thomas Levet.
The Frenchman said McIlroy has more than enough ability to earn a Green Jacket, but questioned how his attacking style fit the Masters.
“Rory has so much talent, but he has to recognize that talent alone is not enough, and recognize the dangers here,” Levet told Reuters on the eve of the year’s first major.
“If he played more Nicklaus-like, he could save a shot here and there and could win a lot of majors.”
Not that McIlroy, 26, is doing badly in the majors department. He already has four victories under his belt, but the Masters is the one that has eluded him.
Nicklaus, by contrast, won six Masters. He could play aggressively, but was also a master at switching gears and methodically racking up pars by avoiding risk-taking when the situation warranted.
Asked to provide examples of McIlroy being too aggressive at Augusta, Levet pointed to the Northern Irishman’s tee shot at the 10th hole in the final round in 2011.
McIlroy had a one-shot lead at the time, and Levet reckons he should have hit a fairway wood.
Instead, McIlroy wielded his driver and the subsequent snap-hook out-of-bounds led to a triple bogey, and sent him plummeting from contention.
Does Levet’s critique of McIlroy stand up to scrutiny, or is he off the mark?
McIlroy’s career Masters record reveals he has made 12 double bogeys and three “others” - triple bogey or worse - in 468 holes.
American Zach Johnson, the 2007 champion, by comparison has recorded nine double bogeys and one “other” in 648 holes.
Johnson, regarded as a steady player who does not take many risks, has had fewer double bogeys or worse than McIlroy in considerably more rounds.
That statistic alone does not prove Levet’s theory, but suggests it has some validity.
Levet will get plenty of opportunities to comment on McIlroy this week as part of the French TV commentary team on Canal+.
Editing by Larry Fine