Mcilroy wants to put the past behind at Augusta

Twelve months after blowing a four-shot lead in the final round of the Masters, Rory McIlroy says that he is ready to win his first green jacket at the Augusta National in Georgia.

The mop-haired Northern Irishman is one of the favourites for the opening Major of the season and believes his improved putting is the biggest change in his game since his stunning meltdown last year.

'I definitely feel like I've come back here the same person but just with a different attitude,' US Open champion McIlroy said at an overcast Augusta National on Tuesday.

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the quarterfinal round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the quarterfinal round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship

'I came here last year hoping to do well and maybe to have a chance to win or whatever.

'But this year, I'm coming in with the attitude that I want to win; I want to put myself into contention.

'I feel like I've been playing some good golf leading up to this week. I'm bringing in some pretty good form, and I'm just excited to get started. I can't wait to get going.'

McIlroy held a four-stroke lead going into the final round of last year's Masters but he spectacularly succumbed to the pressure as he closed with a nightmarish eight-over-par 80.

Asked what he had gained from that haunting experience, the 22-year-old replied: 'I learned that as a person and as a golfer, I wasn't ready to win the Masters, I wasn't ready to win a Major.

Tiger Woods during a practice round in Georgia on Tuesday, ahead of the Augusta Masters

Tiger Woods during a practice round in Georgia on Tuesday, ahead of the Augusta Masters

'I really needed to think about what I needed to do to improve mentally and in different aspects of my game to get better.

'And I felt like I did that. 'It was a huge learning curve. I took a lot from it and was able to put some of the things I learned into practice very quickly, and that's what resulted in winning the U.S. Open a couple months after.'

Major breakthrough Two months after his bitter Masters disappointment, McIlroy won his first Major title by staggering eight shots in the US Open at Congressional, a triumph that made him one of the most popular figures in the game.

When he now looks back at television footage of his Masters meltdown, he instantly recognises that his approach to that final round and the manner in which he played was totally out of character.

'From watching the tape back, I was always looking at the ground,' world number two McIlroy said.

'I was very insular. My shoulders were a little bit like this,' he added while hunching forward.

'It was sort of like I didn't want the outside world to get in instead of embracing the situation and saying, You know, I've got a four-shot lead at the Masters; let's enjoy this'.

'I was trying to be too focused, too perfect. (Usually) I'm more relaxed. I sort of have a bounce in my step with my head up looking around at other people.'

Widely regarded as one of the most accurate drivers in the game, McIlroy says his putting has improved significantly since last year's Masters after working with guru Dave Stockton.

'That's probably been the biggest change in any game since this time last year,' he added. 'I feel like there's a lot more feel in my stroke, and that's something I've worked on with Dave Stockton pretty hard.'

Jeev eager to make amends in Singapore

Jeev Milkha Singh

Jeev Milkha Singh

It has been four years since Jeev Milkha Singh won a tournament on any tour, but the Indian is convinced that 'Life begins at 40' as he gets ready to tee up at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on Thursday.

'We have a saying on the Tour, new life starts at 40. Whenever you turn 40 you have a new life in golf. I believe in that saying, as I turned 40 four months ago. (And last week) it was fantastic to watch Digvijay (Singh) winning as he's also 40.

'It gives us hope and I do feel I have more years left and I'm going to do much better (than 2006 and 2008 when he won four times in each year),' said Jeev.

Singapore is where Jeev won one of his four titles in 2008 when he beat a very strong field, including numerous Major champions, to win the Barclay's Singapore Open.

Handa Classic is also the tournament, where a young Indian, Himmat Rai is the defending champion. Two other Indians, Jyoti Randhawa and Arjun Atwal have also tasted victory in Singapore.So Jeev feels he has all going for him.

'Singapore always gives me good feelings and positive vibes, especially the way golfers think.

'When you come back to a country where you've won, when you go back, you say to yourself you've won here and it's great feeling and I'm back here. I'm excited to be back. I'm fit.

'I'm feeling better with my game. It's been a slow start but I'm looking forward to this week,' he said.

There is a touch of disappointment that in the week of the Augusta Masters, he is playing in another tournament in a different part of the globe. Jeev admitted he would miss the Masters Tournament, the year's first Major. 'In life, golf is like a roller-coaster.

'You're up there and you're down there. It's all part of learning and it's a humbling game at the end of the day. You have to keep your head on your shoulders and you have to keep working.

'I've had three great years at the Masters and I've not been there the last two or three years. 'I would like to be back there, that's my goal, to be back in the world's top- 50 in the future. I feel it's all part of learning. You have to take it in stride. You have to keep trying and learning,' Jeev said of the week on which he is playing in Singapore when the Masters is on the other side of the globe.

'I'm a firm believer, looking at Tom Watson and Greg Norman at the British Open, and there are guys winning on the PGA Tour and European Tour in their 40s. I have a lot of golf left in me.'

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood

British golfer Lee Westwood is as confident as ever of ending his Major tournament drought at the Masters.

Westwood is ranked No.3 in the world, yet is winless in golf's four Major tournaments.

He's come close, particularly at the Augusta National. He finished second to champion Phil Mickelson in 2010.

Westwood likes where his game is at despite just playing four times on the US PGA Tour this year.

He finished 21st last week at the Houston Open.

The 38-year-old Englishman says Augusta National suits him and his near miss two years ago bolsters the confidence he always feels at the Masters.

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