Rory McIlroy cracks up at reporter's Butch Harmon question: "I was going to say"

Rory McIlroy says he is trying to bring 'normalcy' to his Masters preparations on the eve of the first major of the year at Augusta National.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy says he's trying to bring 'a little bit of normalcy' as he lifted the lid on his Masters preparations two days before the first major of the year. 

McIlroy, 34, will attempt once again to complete the career grand slam at Augusta National this week. 

The Northern Irishman will begin his 10th bid at the feat in the company of Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele

McIlroy arrived to the property on Tuesday in a departure from his normal routine. 

In years past he has arrived early and played at least nine holes. And he is a regular participant in the Par 3 Contest.

But he will reportedly skip the family affair in 2024. It's all a part of McIlroy's new plan, he said. 

"This is my 16th start in the Masters, so I feel like I've done it quite a few different ways," McIlroy said. 

"And I guess just trying to bring a little bit of normalcy into what I sort of try to do week in, week out.

"I play 25 weeks a year, and there's no point in doing anything different this week compared to other weeks, I guess. 

"So, it was nice to -- I wanted to play quite a bit leading up to this just to feel like my game was sharp or, if it wasn't sharp, to try to get it in the best shape possible. 

"I feel like I made a couple of good strides in that direction last week in Texas."


McIlroy was alluding to the fact he produced his best finish on the PGA Tour this year at TPC San Antonio.

After that event he met up with Tiger Woods' ex-coach Butch Harmon in Las Vegas for a four-hour lesson. 

This year he has developed a left miss with his irons and has the feeling of two different golf swings. 

A reporter put it to McIlroy that Harmon is a great 'mind manipulator'. 

"I mean that in a complimentary way," the scribe said. 

McIlroy laughed and said: "I was going to say..."

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Of Harmon, McIlroy said: "We probably text on a daily basis. But I think that, if anyone that has been to see Butch over the years, the first thing he'll do is he'll bring you into his office. 

"And we sat and had a 45-minute conversation before he even looked at a swing or even before we really talked about golf at all. Talked about a lot of other stuff."

He continued: "Yeah, he is, he's part sort of psychologist, part swing coach. Like I always joke about you spend four hours with Butch and you go away with two swing tips and 30 stories. 

"But you always go away hitting the ball better than when you came.

"So, yeah, it was really beneficial trip for the technical side of things, which I think I made progress in that department last week, especially with my strokes gained approach numbers, which is what I really wanted to do."

In 2023 McIlroy inexplicably missed the cut here having been full of confidence. 

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

He later admitted he went into the major believing he was going to win. 

But he was caught out leaderboard watching and, after seeing Brooks Koepka race into an early lead, he panicked. 

A reported asked McIlroy: "From a mentality and emotional perspective in regards to attitude, when you come into this week, how do you manage wanting to win this tournament but not the desire being so big that it becomes an obstacle?" 

He replied: "I would say not trying to win it from the first tee shot. 

"I think that's something that I've tried to learn. It's a 72-hole golf tournament. I've won from 10 strokes back going into the weekend. 

"There's loads of different ways to do it. I think trying to, you know -- and, again, I've said this, this golf course gets you to chase things a little more than other golf courses, if you make a bogey or if you get yourself out of position, because it always tempts you to do something you think you can do.

"And I'm pretty confident in my golf game. I think I can do most things, but sometimes you just have to take the conservative route and be a little more disciplined and patient.

"With a 72-hole golf tournament, you can be patient, you can be disciplined, and you can stick to your game plan. 

"And that's something that I've really tried to learn at this tournament over the years."

The 2024 Masters begins Thursday. 

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