Rory McIlroy began his Masters preparation in spectacular fashion on Monday by making a hole-in-one on the 16th hole at Augusta National.
McIlroy, who is looking to become just the sixth player to complete the career grand slam by claiming a first green jacket this week, holed out with a seven iron from 170 yards to complete a 3&2 win in his match against England’s Chris Wood.
“I don’t think I have ever heard a roar that large in a practice round,” the four-time major winner said of the reaction from the crowd.
“It was great. It was a nice practice round and a bit of a highlight. And it ended the match as well.
“I played well. I feel like my game is in good shape. We both hit just one ball (off the tee). It gets me into a nice mindset of this is how I’m going to play, so I’m going to try to do the same tomorrow, play 18 and a match with someone.
“I feel that’s the best way for me to prepare. It’s competitive. You’re trying to shoot a score.
“The pins aren’t in the spots where they are going to be at the weekend, but at the same time you still have to get the ball in the hole and hole putts that you feel a little bit of pressure on.”
Asked about the condition of the course, McIlroy, who finished fourth last year, added: “It’s not very different at all from what we saw last year.
“I feel like the way the course is now is probably the way the course played last year because it was soft and a little slow.
“I’m sure they are trying to get it faster and firmer as the week goes on.”
Wood, who now owes McIlroy dinner, was faced with the daunting task of also trying to make a hole-in-one to keep the match alive, but joked: “I suppose it wasn’t quite game over but when the crowd are chanting ‘Rory, Rory’ and you’ve got to try and hit a seven iron to that flag there’s not much chance.
“I’ve never quite heard a noise like it - it was pretty mad. It was great fun. It was a cool moment.”