Augusta - 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 mind-set of this is how I'm going to
play, so I'm going to try to do the same tomorrow(Tuesday), 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."