Rory set to be King!
Dave Tindall's dark horse pick is up to tied second but he can't see past a Rory McIlroy win at The Masters.
By Dave Tindall
Last Updated: 10/04/11 3:57pm
The King is dead. Long live the King.
Okay, that well-worn line probably shouldn't be trotted out with 18 holes left of The Masters.
And, in all honestly, Tiger Woods may have lost the royalty tag some time ago.
But with a four-shot lead, Rory McIlroy looks for all the world like dethroning the man that many casual observers still view as ruler of the golfing kingdom and thrusting himself into superstardom.
The significance is heightened by the fact that Rory would be the same age, 21, as Tiger was when the now 14-time major winner produced his extraordinary 12-shot triumph here at Augusta National in 1997.
No-one expects Rory to demolish the field in the same fashion but everything he's done this week suggests the young man from Northern Ireland will win his first major and become the first European to be handed the Green Jacket since Jose Maria Olazabal in 1999.
Sports Illustrated made McIlroy the cover star of their 2009 Masters preview edition such was his prodigious talent and that exposure partly explains why he's such a popular figure in the United States.
They love his golf and they love him and it's easy to see why with his explosive hitting, delicate touch and easy Irish charm.
He talks a good game too and the press here would be absolutely delighted at a McIlroy victory on Sunday. It's a great story and he'd back it up with some great quotes too.
As for me today, I didn't get out there too much today due to the intense heat.
I'm not alone in this, especially at The Masters, where all sorts of information is right at your fingertips thanks to the little monitors in front of us in the press centre.
These allow us to watch any hole on the back nine so, just with the prod of a touchscreen pen, we can track a player arriving at the 10th green and follow him all the way to the 18th.
I did this with my outside pick Angel Cabrera (125/1) today and it was great fun given that he was making birdies and charging through the field to eventually finish tied second.
Maybe I can put this to the TV guys at Sky as I think viewers would really like this option although these things are always more complicated than you would imagine.
The front nine aren't shown and that's why the Japanese journalist next to me came in virtually dripping.
He had gone out there to get a shot-by-shot account of Ryo Ishikawa over the first nine holes in person before coming back into the press centre to view the second nine on his little monitor.
To my left is a Korean journalist and I had a good chat with him today.
He's got plenty to write about this week with KJ Choi and YE Yang being high on the leaderboard but he still found time to visit the merchandise tent to buy no less than 15 Masters caps for his friends back home.
Golf, he told me, is growing in South Korea and although it is seen as a moneyed sport right now, that will hopefully change as they build more courses (at present they only have around 200).
Still no news on the 'Get to play Augusta' press lottery but I did have one result today when I backed the first two home in the Grand National.
I normally get incredibly worked up by the Aintree spectacular - it's a childhood thing I've never shaken off - so it was rather nice to log on and see the result without the stress of wondering if my selections would fall.
Stress will be a huge factor tomorrow of course and so far McIlroy has shown virtually none.
However, a wise man once told me all golfers have their comfort zones and for most it ends after 54 holes.
To be honest Rory hasn't found himself in that position too often but his game just seems to 'on' to give way on Sunday.
He's hitting the par fives in two, he's not putting pressure on his putting and therefore a 70 or 71 might well be enough.
My pocket says otherwise, but I genuinely hope he can pull it off.