Rory McIlroy: What PGA's No. 1 Must Do This Weekend

Noah Poinar@@noah_poinarCorrespondent IApril 6, 2012

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his shot from a greenside bunker on the second hole during the second round of the 2012 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 6, 2012 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As we head into the weekend at Augusta, it looks as if we’re headed for a terrific finish at the Masters. With all the rain the course received this past week, we expected to see lower scores—a leader at or around 10-under par.  That isn’t the case, though.  

With the two leaders Jason Dufner and Fred Couples sitting at five-under par, Rory McIlroy, who sits behind them at four-under, is in prime position to take home the coveted Green Jacket. 

If I’m picking a winner at this point, I’m taking McIlroy over the field.  

McIlroy’s game is suited for Augusta, as he’s one of the most consistent drivers (distance and accuracy combined) on the tour, and that’s probably how the winner will be decided—by the guy who keeps himself out of harms way off the tee, while maintaining an advantage off the tee in distance. 

Already this week we’ve seen guys throw away their entire round (and tournament chances) on one or two holes because they’ve gotten into trouble off the tee.  All you need to know is that Fred Couples is tied for the lead...the same Fred Couples who, though 52 years of age, still remains one of the purest, most consistent ball strikers there is.

After the disastrous Sunday McIlroy had last year, where he blew a four stroke lead on the final day, this is his tournament to lose.   Ironically, that final day collapse began when he hit a wayward shot off the 10th tee.  

If McIlroy can maintain his consistent ball striking throughout the remainder of the weekend, he’ll probably walk away with the coveted jacket.  With a one, two and three finish in each of his respective PGA tournaments this season, it’s pretty obvious he’s deserving of his world golf ranking (currently No. 2).

In winning last year's U.S. Open, he proved he had the mental toughness to put the past behind him.  So this isn’t really a question of his having to overcome what happened to him last year, it’s more a question of his staying out of trouble; more importantly, limiting the trouble.  He's No. 1 on the tour in sand saves, and is in the Top 10 percent in par saves. 

Like every other golfer in contention, McIlroy’s winning chances will come down to his ability to limit the damage.  He may be able to do that, or he may not; I don’t know.  But if you’re going to trust any golfer this weekend to do that, McIlroy’s your guy.