Rory McIlroy kick-started his 2016 Masters campaign and Grand Slam quest with an ace at the par three, 16th hole on the first day of official practice at Augusta National.
McIlroy was in a match-play bet for 'dinner' with lanky Englishman Chris Wood and was 2up at the time on Wood when he holed his 7-iron from 170 yards out.
"That roar was large considering it was a practice round and I don't think I've ever heard a roar that large in a practice round," said McIlroy. "So it was good as at the time I was 2up on Chris with three to play, so it was a sensational way to end the match. But it was nice practice round and good to play with Chris."
McIlroy had singled out the 16th as a key hole but didn't expect to begin his eighth Masters campaign with an ace.
"Yes, the 16th is not a pushover especially when the pin is over on the right, but then you have a decent chance when the pin is on the left," he said. "The course is not very different at all from what we saw last year. I feel like the way the course is now, is probably the way the course played last year because it was soft and a little slow. I'm sure they are trying to get it faster and firmer as the week goes on.”
McIlroy arrived into Augusta on Sunday night and admitting he spent the first three days of last week as a 'couch potato' before hitting the Bears Club on Thursday in the company of his long-time coach Michael Bannon and fitness coach, Steve McGregor.
"I had three days off early last week and then Michael and Steve got into town on Thursday and started working then," he said. "It was only two weeks in a row, but Austin felt like a long week so three days off was good, and besides the weather wasn't very good so I sat on the couch and caught up on some TV.”
"I also played the one ball off the tees today and that gets me into a nice mindset of this is how I'm going to play, so I'm going to try to do the same tomorrow, play 18 and a match with someone or a fourball match if three others want to come and join.”
"I feel that's the best way for me to prepare, it's competitive, you're trying to shoot a score. The pins aren't in the spots where they are going to be at the weekend but at the same time you still have to get the ball in the hole and hole putts that you feel a little bit of pressure on."
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