- Rory McIlroy admits he wasn't ready to win last year's Masters
- He had taken a four-shot lead into the final round in 2011
- A final round 80, ending his hopes
- McIlroy has been paired with Cabrera and Watson
It all looked so simple for Rory McIlroy going into the final round of the 2011 Masters.
Holding a four-shot lead, the Ulsterman was on the verge of winning his first major at the tender age of 21.
A nightmare final round of 80 on that Sunday ended that dream but McIlroy has admitted he wasn't ready to wear his first Green Jacket, before sending a warning shot to the rest of this year's field not to expect a similar capitulation.
"One of the things I learned as a person and as a golfer is that I wasn't ready to win the Masters. I wasn't ready to win a major," he told a press conference Tuesday.
"It was a huge learning experience. I took a lot from it and took some of the things [and put them] into practice very quickly."
McIlroy improved so quickly that a few weeks later he had won the U.S. Open and is now setting his sights on laying last year's ghosts to rest, especially his disastrous performance at the tenth hole where he famously hit the trees before finding the ball nestled behind the cabins.
"I can't believe how close the cabins are. They are only 50 yards off the tee!" joked McIlroy.
"It's great to be able to laugh about it now."
Yet returning to Augusta hasn't all been fun and games. He admits that the memories of that final round still had to be overcome.
"The first time I played the back nine last week, [I had] these memories that come back and memories you don't want. That's fine. I got them out of the way," he said.
"I had a quick glance on the way past walking down the middle of the fairway last week. Hopefully I'll do the same thing during this week."
McIlroy has had a fine start to 2012, having briefly usurped Luke Donald as world number one. Now he has put that final round into perspective telling journalists that: "it's only golf. It's not like anyone died on that Sunday."
But he has turned to one legend for advice who has had his own Augusta demons to deal with: Greg Norman.
"He said a couple things to me that I found very useful and put into practice," he said when asked what advice Norman, who blew four chances at winning the Masters, had given him.
"I've said this before, but create this little bubble around yourself and just try and get into that and don't let any of the outside interference come into that."