Rory McIlroy believes the postponement of the Masters because of the coronavirus pandemic could work to his advantage.
The Masters will now be played Nov. 12-15 rather than in April, and McIlroy said during an appearance on Nike Golf's Instagram Live on Sunday (h/t Brentley Romine of GolfChannel.com) that the change could be beneficial to him:
"I feel like there's anticipation going to Augusta, the first big event of the year. There's all this hype. I don't think it'll feel like that this year. I think it'll feel a little bit different, which I'm looking forward to. It's going to be a different Masters, and personally, selfishly, maybe that's what I need to get the [green] jacket."
The 30-year-old McIlroy has won each of the other three major tournaments and is a four-time major champion overall, but he is a Masters win away from completing the career Grand Slam.
McIlroy's best Masters finish is fourth, but he has landed inside the top 10 in five of his past six outings at Augusta. He finished a distant 15th in 2011 after holding the 54-hole lead, fading badly with a final-round 80.
Despite all of McIlroy's success, that failure has loomed large in his career, and winning a green jacket may be the only way to erase it.
With the way the 2020 Masters is scheduled, the PGA Championship and U.S. Open will have already been played,provided play is able to resume by the summer.
McIlroy believes that could help him be in his desired rhythm come Masters time:
"November is going to be different. It's going to be cold. The course can play very long. I mean, it plays long already, but it could play very long. The greens might not be as fast as they usually are in April, depending on the moisture. Obviously, they can do whatever they want with the course with SubAir and everything, but I think it'll be a different feel as well. It's the back end of the year as two of the majors have already been played—hopefully, the Ryder Cup's already been played. People might be in their routines and in their flow a little bit."
McIlroy is a one-time Open Championship winner who is capable of conquering adverse weather conditions. That is to be expected of a player who hails from Northern Ireland.
Also, Romine noted that nine of McIlroy's 18 career PGA Tour wins have come in August or later, which suggests he gets better as the season goes on.
McIlroy has often been in the mix at the Masters over the past several years, but perhaps a change in scheduling and weather is what he needs to get over the top and cement his place in golf immortality forever.
Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports. In this episode, MLB outfielder Dexter Fowler.