AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Rory McIlroy had one of the greatest recoveries in 2011 when he blew a four-shot lead in the final round of the Masters by shooting 80, and then bounced back two months later to set the scoring record in the U.S. Open in his first major win.
His father recalled a phone conversation he had with McIlroy that night after the Masters in which the 21-year-old said he was OK.
Turns out the phone call with his mother the next morning was different.
"That's probably the only time I've cried over golf was the morning after in 2011," McIlroy said.
He was blowing away the field at Augusta that year when everything went wrong, especially the back nine. He took triple bogey on No. 10 after a tee shot into the cabins, three-putted the 11th and four-putted the 12th.
So it's strange to hear that McIlroy has never had a top 10 at the Masters in five appearances. He tied for 15th in 2011. He fell out of contention each of the last two years with a poor round on Saturday, including a 79 last year.
Even so, he arrived at Augusta National optimistic instead of wary from past experiences. Asked to describe the emotions he associated with Augusta National, he replied, "Excitement."
"I have no ill feelings toward 2011," he said. "I thought it was a very important day in my career. It was a big learning curve for me. And I don't know if I had not had that day, would I be the person and the player that I am sitting here? Because I learned so much from it. I learned exactly not what to do under pressure and contention, and I definitely learned from that day how to handle my emotions better on the course."
LEFTY'S BAG: Sometimes, there really is a method to the madness of Phil Mickelson.
He once used two drivers at the Masters. Or he'll come up with a different fairway metal. Sure, the three-time Masters champion loves to tinker with equipment, but he revealed a reason why he's always working on new clubs for Augusta National.
"It's because I have two free clubs this week," Mickelson said. "So for the past six or seven years I've played this tournament, I have not had a shot between 90 and 130 yards. So think about that. I have a 40 yard gap there. I take out my sand wedge and gap wedge because I don't ever need them and it allows me to put in two special clubs. That's why I'm always working on something."
Mickelson said he doesn't need anything special this week. He's putting a 64-degree wedge in the bag. He's not sure about the other one.
"I'm not going to play with 13 clubs, but I don't know what the 14th club is going to be," he said. "I'll throw one in — the sand or gap wedge — just out of default, but I don't ever use them here."
Someone asked if there was another course where he knew he wouldn't need all 14 clubs.
"There's some I need 16, but that's not really an option," Mickelson said. "It's just kind of one of those unique things, when the course got redesigned ... the holes that we used to hit sand wedge, gap wedge in — No. 1, No. 9, sometimes 14, sometimes 17 — you just can't now."
BUGS ON THE BARBIE: The Masters has produced champions from four continents in five years, which means a little diversity when it comes to the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night. Angel Cabrera had blood sausage on the menu, a staple in Argentina. Charl Schwartzel of South Africa served monkey gland sauce to go on the meats. Bubba Watson had breaded chicken.
Adam Scott is bringing in the best bugs Australia has to offer.
Except they're not really bugs.
On the menu Tuesday night was Moreton Bay Bugs, an Australian version of lobster.
"The bugs are here," Scott said. "I picked the bugs because I like them. They are one of my favorite foods back home. I thought it would be nice to have something really local to serve. Hopefully, the other guys can get past the name and enjoy a nice bit of our seafood from home. But I think they are going to be pretty happy with what I serve up tonight, and particularly the wine."
Asked by an Australian reporter if the Moreton Bay Bugs were from Brisbane, Scott nodded his head.
"They are legitimate bugs, the real deal," Scott said. "I'm not going to serve up anything second-rate tonight. I've got to go all out to impress these guys."
Also on the menu is Pavlova, a pudding that his mother makes. The Augusta National chefs will be using her recipe.
"This is going to be maybe a little trickier for them," Scott said. "Hopefully, they get it right."
BIG THREE, BUT NO FIVE: One of the more interesting groups for the opening two rounds of the Masters is Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed. McIlroy is the old man in the group at 24. Spieth is 20. The two "youngsters" are playing their first Masters — in fact, the 23-year-old Reed is playing his first major.
McIlroy looked at it another way.
"There's going to be no top-five players in that group," he said.
That was a reference to Reed, who declared on national TV after he won at Doral that he felt he was one of the top five players in the world. McIlroy is at No. 9, Spieth is at No. 13 and Reed is at No. 23.