Rory McIlroy can go to Augusta National “under the radar” and win the Masters to complete the career grand slam, two double US Open winners believe.
Andy North and Curtis Strange say a soft course and a focus on big-hitting US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau will work to McIlroy’s advantage.
“The golf course is going to play a little bit softer, which I think plays into Rory’s hands,” said North.
“It’s not just being able to hit the ball a long way there,” he added.
“It’s about being able to carry it a long way and he does that as well as anybody.
“I would think with Rory, coming in here, he’s got to be in a really happy mind spot right now (as a) new father, figuring all that out,” former US Ryder Cup player North said during a teleconference with reporters.
“Bryson and [Dustin (Johnson] and some of these other guys. He might come in there feeling really good that he’s under the radar and got nothing to lose and just go out and play.”
Strange, who was the last player to win back-to-back US Open titles (1988-89) before Brooks Koepka did so in 2017 and 2018, added: “You try not to root for anybody, but I think we all root for him (McIlroy) a little bit because you would have thought he would have had a green jacket by now.
“If there’s a week that I think he can win, it’s Augusta because of the set up of the golf course, the way he plays the game, the way he enjoys the fans, the patrons, all of the above, but you still have to get it done.
“Maybe being under the radar can help him this week, maybe playing in November.”
The Masters was rescheduled from its customary April date because of the Covid-19 health pandemic.
De Chambeau driving ‘astounding’
DeChambeau recently posted an image from his launch monitor showing a drive which flew 403 yards in the air and North expects the world number six to take a unique approach to some holes at Augusta National.
“I watched him play an awful lot of golf at the US Open and watched him hit an awful lot of balls, and you can watch it on TV, but until you’re standing next to him and actually watch the violence that he’s creating and how the golf ball leaves the club head, you can’t believe it,” North observed.
“It is absolutely astounding.
“I’m looking forward to see where he drives it on some of these holes. A hole like the (par-five) eighth hole, I’ve heard rumours he’s hit like seven iron in there. Thirteen, he’s talking about trying to drive it over the trees into the 14th fairway and create that angle.
“It will be places that we’ve never seen anybody even think about getting to, and the fact that there are no patrons, you can go some different directions than maybe you normally would, you couldn’t, because there’s so many people in that spot.
“It sure changes how you can attack the golf course if you can drive over every single bunker and you can start taking shortcuts and hit it up over corners that no one’s ever done before. It’s going to be fun to see.”