McIlroy looking to rise to Masters challenge and silence doubters

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Rory McIlroy will arrive at the scene of his infamous 2011 Masters collapse under more pressure than he has possibly ever experienced.

Few will ever forget the Northern Irishman’s final round of 80 to throw away his four-shot lead, and still adjusting after his switch to new Nike clubs, his form in the build up to this year’s event has also been spectacular for the wrong reasons.

It’s been little short of a disastrous year so far for the 23-year-old, who failed to make the cut in Abu Dhabi and was out in the first round of the World Match Play Championship, before controversially walking off during the second round of the Honda Classic.

That episode marked a low point for the 2012 US Open champion.

At first glance it does not make good reading for a man at 8/1 to suddenly hit form and claim a first Masters trophy, but the Holywood native is made of strong stuff and there are signs he is getting his game together at just the right time.

He broke par for the first time this year at Doral two weeks ago, before a confident final round of 65 thrust him into the top ten at the Miami course, and that might just make McIlroy the man to back.

McIlroy is at the Houston Open this weekend, his final tournament before the big event at Augusta in two week’s time.

Usually the two tournaments run back-to-back, but the nature of the 2013 calendar allows the Valero Texas Open to host the final pre-Masters event next week.

McIlroy won’t be going to Texas, as he’s using the break to head to Georgia early and gather some focus.

The former world number one is famous for his steely, single-minded determination, and there’s every reason to suggest that he won’t win the 2013 Masters – but that’s exactly why he just might.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.