At the end of a long, dark winter, there is no sporting event quite like the US Masters for signalling the start of spring.
Few sporting arenas worldwide are as iconic as the Augusta National Golf Club in south-east Georgia, from the trees of Magnolia Lane leading to the clubhouse, to the danger lurking on Amen Corner.
As beautiful a course as Augusta appears on our high definition television screens, it has the potential to bare its teeth and unleash drama like few other sporting venues.
It was only last year that tournament favourite, the American Jordan Spieth, was seemingly cruising towards a second successive Masters victory and another appointment with the Green Jacket. Five shots clear on the 12th hole, he collapsed spectacularly, handing an unlikely triumph to Englishman Danny Willett.
Which brings us to Rory McIlroy and a final-round collapse in 2011 which was every bit as spectacular as Spieth’s. Rory led the field at the beginning of the final round, but a calamitous tee-shot on the 10th hole was the catalyst for a nightmarish round of 80.
Rory was just 21 then but, with four brilliant major titles since, he will join an illustrious list if he is wearing the Green Jacket come Sunday night. Only five golfers in history have won the Grand Slam of all four majors, the Masters, the US Open, the Open Championship and the USPGA.
Unfortunately, there is little in the form-book that suggests that Rory will be joining them this weekend. After a disappointing 2016, McIlroy’s 2017 has so far been plagued by a niggling injury and he is still striving for the form that made him the world’s best player a couple of years ago.
But McIlroy has a history of producing moments of genius when you least expect. He responded to the devastation of that Masters collapse in 2011 by winning the US Open weeks later. If he can complete his major collection with the Masters his Ulster sporting immortality will be complete.