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Practice makes perfect for McIlroy as he aims for 1st Master title

For Rory McIlroy, the adage “practice makes perfect’’ is just the right tonic he needs for the 2017 Masters firing off this Friday.

The pride of Northern Ireland is calling the iconic venue that is the Augusta National in Georgia as his “home golf course’’ and the more he plays there, he feels better.

In search of an elusive first Masters title, McIlroy has revved up his preparation this year by playing 99 practice holes so far.

As if those were not enough, the 27-year-old ranked No. 2 in the world is set to test nine more holes Thursday in a build-up he plays down as “quiet’’ compared to previous years.

“I feel good, like my game is there. I feel ready to go,’’ he said during a talk with BBC Radio. “I feel like I’ve done everything I can do to prepare. It’s just a case of going out there and hitting the shots I need to.’’

McIlroy, who padded his earnings by bagging 7.7 million pounds in bonus after winning last year’s PGA points race, starts his campaign alongside Spain’s Jon Rahm (world No. 12) and Japan’s Hideto Tanihara (world No. 48).

If he wins, McIlroy will become just the sixth player to complete a grand slam of majors. He won the US PGA Championship titles from 2012 and 2014, 2014 Open Championship and the 2011 US Open.

Last year, he skipped the traditional Par 3 event on the eve of the Masters to concentrate on the main event, but could only land 10th, his third top-10 finish in a row.

This time around, he is expected to see action in the Par 3 contest.

However, no player has ruled the curtain-raiser and went on to win the main prize in the same year.

The Masters serves as professional golf’s first major championship. The others are the US Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship.

Aside from McIlroy, also expected to vie strongly for the title this year are defending champion and No. 17 Danny Willett of Britain, world No.1 Dustin Johnson of the United States, and world No. 3 Jason Day of Australia.