Rory McIlroy on ‘a journey’ as he bids to complete Fab Four with Masters win

The Northern Irishman is seeing the bigger picture as he readies for another crack at Augusta National glory this week.

While many media-trained golfers trot out a series of stock phrases, Rory McIlroy rarely disappoints when put in front of the press. For him, it's a chance to unpack what's going on in his head.

At times, the 'no filter' approach can land him in trouble. But, thankfully, he remains happy to share and get it out there.

So when he was brought into Augusta National's plush media building on Tuesday, the press knew there would be plenty of good lines to riff on.

Rory should already have won the Masters having once taken a four-shot lead into the final round. Amazingly, that was 10 years ago and it still remains the missing piece of the puzzle as he looks to complete the set of all four Majors.

But rather than avoid all talk of his 2011 collapse and the difficult Masters moments since, McIlroy is content to point at and discuss the elephant in the room. Of course he is.

The Northern Irishman often has a new theme or approach to unveil when it comes to planning how to to tackle each Major. And this time it's 'the journey'.

Yep, Rory has gone spiritual. It's his Beatles meets the Maharishi period as he tries to find the higher plane that will take him to the promised land of a first Green Jacket.

Turns out the Maharishi was a fraud but Rory has recently sat down with a genuine higher power (two if you count new coach Pete Cowen). McIlroy reveals that he popped over to Tiger Woods' house to check up on the five-time Masters champ following his car accident.

But even that social call sent McIlroy's mind on a magical mystery tour, as we shall see.

Rory is in search of The Fab Four
Rory is in search of The Fab Four

Cross your legs, drape flowers around your neck, put on some sitar music and read some of Rory's best stream of consciousness quotes below…

Guaranteed to raise a smile

Here's Rory on whether good or bad memories flood his mind when returning to Augusta:

"The good. I think the good is always -- they're the memories you want to keep and you want to hold onto. Whether it's the great stuff from 2011 or I guess the charge I put in the Saturday in 2018, but you have to take your lessons from the not so good stuff, as well, right. I played in the final group in 2016 with Jordan (Spieth) on the Saturday. Didn't go quite the way I wanted it to.

"Obviously there's been another few rounds here where I've sort of put myself behind the 8-ball not being able to get any momentum. But they are all learning lessons and you just try to go out there the next time and do a little bit better, and that's all I can do is go out there and try my best."

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream

On practice routines at Augusta this year and focusing on the journey to enlightment:

"I didn't come up here to play any practice rounds last week. I just flew in Sunday. Had a good practice session here. It was pretty windy down in Florida the last week or so, so it was nice to get up here and practice in some benign conditions and work on some things. Played 18 yesterday, nine today. I'll probably play nine tomorrow. That's maybe a little different from previous years.

Picture yourself on a hole at Augusta. Rory looks at the sky with Harry Diamond
Picture yourself on a hole at Augusta. Rory looks at the sky with Harry Diamond

"Yeah, look, I'm trying to view what I'm doing with my golf game on a -- I'm trying to see the big picture here. I'm not all focused on -- I'm obviously focused on this week, but it's bigger than that. It's a journey, right, and it's a journey to try to get back to playing the game the way I know that I can play the game.

"So obviously this week is very important, but I'm still looking beyond that. I'm just at the start of a journey here that I know will get me back to where I want to be."

Pete best: On what Cowen brings 

"I just thought with what I have been sort of struggling with or trying to find a grasp with my swing, Pete likes to get his students to do what I was trying to feel I was doing, and he's worked with a bunch of different players, and he's got a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom.

"It just felt like a comfortable fit for me. That's the reason I brought him in. It's basically just about trying to understand the body movements a little bit more and sort of understanding why certain shots happen and how to fix those on the fly and how to, even during rounds, okay, if you have a better understanding of what you're doing, then you can start to manage it better, even if things don't feel quite the way you want them to."

You say you want a revolution

On whether his focus has been on overhauling his swing or returning to basics:

"I think if I were to explain it in depth, it's actually very simple. I'm actually getting away from a lot of technical thoughts. I'm actually going the other way. I've sort of simplified it down to just making the right body movements and instead of trying to get myself to get the club into certain positions. So if anything, I feel like I've simplified the whole process.

"When you don't understand why you're hitting certain shots, you can become lost and you can start to think of all sorts of stuff. And I felt like every time I was going to the range, I was trying something different. Where now I feel like I'm on a path that's a little more structured and I have a better understanding of why I'm doing things and why certain shots do what they do and why certain movements produce a golf shot. You know, so I think that's been a big thing."

We can work it out

"I've always thought the thing that makes me a great driver of the golf ball is also the thing that sometimes makes me not be as good with the wedges. It's a different action and it's a different sequence of movements. But I'm working on it. I work on it hard. It might be a part of the game that doesn't come as easily to me or players like me. But it's not from a lack of trying or a lack of practice or a lack of work at it.

"So I'm working on it and I feel like I'm on the right direction. I've made some pretty good strides over the last few weeks, and, you know -- but as I said, it's only a start. I've made a start at it, and I'm excited about it and I'm enthusiastic about being on this journey. And yeah, I'm not saying I'm going to be a Zach Johnson and I'm going to wedge it like him for the rest of my career, but if I can get a little bit closer to being like Zach, then I'll be very happy."

(Don't try and) get back to where you once belonged

On not dwelling on past feats:

"I feel like there's been a lot of looking back to try to go forward instead of just saying, okay, this is where we are, this is the present, this is what you've got to work with, let's go forward from here.

"There's been a lot of, oh, well, back in 2014 I did this or look at this. You know, that's a long time ago now and you can't change the past. You can't -- it's not as if you can just magically delve back into it and bring it all back to life."

All you need is... The Fab Four

On peaking for the Majors and his epiphany driving back from Tiger's house:

"So I went over to Tiger's house a few weeks ago to see him, and in his family room he's got his trophy cabinet and it's his 15 major trophies. I said, "That's really cool. Where are all the others?" He said, "I don't know." I go, "What?" He said, "Yeah, my mom has some, and a few are in the office and a few are wherever."

"I was driving home, and I was thinking -- I mean, he talked -- that's all he cared about, all he cared about. So how easy that must have felt for him to win all the others. That was just always in my mind, he talked about these are the four weeks that matter. So the weeks that didn't matter, you know, he racked them up at a pretty fast clip.

"But I'm just thinking to myself, how easy must that have felt for him if all he cared about were four weeks a year. The other stuff must have been like practice. So that's like a really -- that's a cool perspective to have, right. Yeah, that's all I could think about on the way home. And I was glad he was okay, too!"

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