PGA Tour Confidential: What McIlroy must do to close out first major victory

PGA Tour Confidential: What McIlroy must do to close out first major victory

Rory McIlroy will begin the final round with a four-shot lead.
John Biever/SI

Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the Masters in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: What is the most important thing Rory McIlroy has to do tomorrow to win the green jacket? (And I mean one thing. Not keep his emotions under control and putt well. It’s either keep his emotions under control, or putt well, or drive well, or get through the front nine even par, or birdie all the par 5s …)

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Rory needs to remain aggressive, try to make birdies when the opportunity presents. Stay away from the four corners, Rory.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Make good misses.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: He needs to remember that gods and immortals don’t win majors. Human beings win majors, and far more ordinary human beings than him — flawed, nervous human beings have done so.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: Rory has to stay true to his game plan, influence what he can influence, stay patient and committed. That’s all he can do.

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Keep his mind solely where it’s been during the first three rounds: on compressing the hell out of the ball on every shot he hits. Doing that, he’ll win by a mile.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Shoot one under. Thirteen under par will win this thing. (Twelve might, too.)

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Just be himself and stay comfortable out there. Having Graeme McDowell following him will help. G-Mac sure knew how to stay loose at the U.S. Open. Of course, in this space, I’ve also predicted Mickelson (T18) would win, that Rory Sabbatini (MC) would be a darkhorse, and that Tiger was going to make his move Saturday (74).

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, We’re all saying about the same thing in different ways. Here’s one more way to say it: Don’t change a thing, Rory.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, All he has to do stand on that first tee and think about the fame, money and endorsements he’ll rake in if he wins it. Wait, I answered the wrong question. That’s what you don’t do, Rory.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Make a birdie before he makes a bogey. That will send a strong message to those chasing.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Hit greens in regulation. Doing that will keep the big numbers off his card and put pressure on Cabrera and his other pursuers to do something amazing.

Paul Mahoney, contributor, Golf Magazine: All he has to do, is birdie three par 5s, which gives him slack to shoot 70. Do this, and no one will catch him. He can jig up 18 like Michael Flatley. A great (Irish) American victory.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Rory needs to set a goal. Any goal. A score, a swing thought, anything to keep him in the precious present.

Alan Bastable, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Shoot 70. That oughta do it.