Rory McIlroy believes it’s vital for him to win a Masters title sooner rather than later because each year that goes by without success will make future trips more difficult.
A green jacket is all that eludes a career grand-slam for the 27-year-old – a feat that would make him the sixth grand-slam winner of all time alongside the likes of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus – and he admits the pressure is mounting.
“It’s a motivation to be able to put your name alongside those five guys.
“I think each and every year that passes that I don’t, it will become increasingly more difficult,” he told augusta.com.
Having blown a four-shot lead in 2011, the Northern-Irishman does think that he may have a mental-block at Augusta that makes the event more difficult for him personally.
“I sort of feel a bit like what Phil [Mickelson] goes through when he goes to the U.S. Open, but at the same time I haven’t finished second at Augusta six times and he’s finished second [at U.S. Open six times].
“So I can only imagine what goes through his head when he turns up at a U.S. Open,” he confessed.
“I’ve been in position before and I haven’t got the job done when I needed to and I don’t think that’s anything to do with my game. I think that’s more me mentally and I’m trying to deal with the pressure of it and the thrill of the achievement if it were to happen.
“I think that’s the thing that’s really holding me back.”
But with that said, McIlroy’s in no doubt that he has the capabilities to bring home a green jacket and complete the illustrious career grand-slam.
“I feel like I’m a good enough player; I feel like I’ve got everything I need to become a Masters champion.
“It’s the biggest tournament of the year for me, for obvious reasons, and I’ve never made any secret about that. I’m very open about that,” he added.
Lamenting his tentative play on Saturday last year that led to a 77, McIlroy will adopt a more aggressive approach around Augusta this time out in hope he doesn’t suffer a similar slip away from the leaders.
“That’s not the way I play [conservatively]. It’s almost as if I need to go out here and not respect the golf course as much; to go out there and not really care where I miss it or where I don’t miss it.
“Everyone talks about at Augusta you need to miss it here, you need to miss it there, it’s all about your misses. But I would rather hit it right on line than miss in the right place. So, yeah, I was a little too careful out there [last year].”
The world-number-two heads to Augusta with just four 2017 starts under his belt having suffered a rib injury. But, with three top 10s and a play-off defeat in that time, he does head into the year’s first major with solid form and high confidence.