Masters 2011: Watch Out, Tiger, the Young Guns Are Locked and Loaded

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IApril 10, 2011

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 09:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the 12th hole as Jason Day of Australia looks on during the third round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

As we head into Sunday’s final round at Augusta, Tiger Woods is in the hunt to capture another Masters title, but he will have to defeat golf’s young guns to win his fifth green jacket.

And this group isn’t awestruck by his talent. No, they aren’t interested in just hanging around atop of the leaderboard; instead, they’re trying to win a major championship themselves.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIllroy has a four-stroke lead over a second-place quartet headed by Jason Day, and both have performed brilliantly under the spotlights of a major championship.

McIllroy’s swing has been almost perfect this weekend, as he didn’t record his first bogey until the 30th hole of the competition. Day went on to shoot a Masters best eight-under par during his second round.

How young are these two? Well, they’re a combined seven years younger than Fred Couples (McIllroy is 21 and Day is 23) and only played in nine majors total. But, both have the confidence to bring home a major title on Sunday. And Woods was the perfect blueprint in their development as a golfer.

McIllroy and Day had taken up the sport after watching Tiger’s incredible win (18-under) at the 1997 Masters and his follow-up performance (12-under) at the 2000 U.S. Open Championship. Each was mesmerized by Tiger’s overall attitude on the course and his fist-pumping reaction to each successful putt.

Does the teacher have one more trick up his sleeve, as Woods must remind his disciples that a Masters victory still must go through him. He is a legend that desperately needs a win to put the last 17 months in his rear-view mirror once and for all.

McIllroy and Day have perfectly attacked the course all weekend long and haven’t cared much about the scores from other players. As long as they're ahead on the leaderboard then they’re in a better position to secure a win.

They might be too young to realize what they’re playing for, but they’re also too talented to be affected by another player’s last day charge up the leaderboard. And just like Tiger, each is here to win.


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