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Golf: McIlroy gets Masters thumbs up from coaches

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The two people that know Rory McIlroy's golf game the best, his long-time coach Michael Bannon and short-game specialist, Dave Stockton, have given McIlroy a resounding vote of confidence ahead of next month's Masters.

Bannon and Stockton walked side-by-side with the World No. 2 during Wednesday's Houston Open Pro-Am in Texas.

McIlroy led a star-studded five-man side of former NFL Dallas Cowboys running back, Emmit Smith, former US Secretary of State, James Baker, NASCAR team owner, Roger Penske and Marvin Odum, president of sponsors Shell.

And while Smith managed to outdrive McIlroy off the forward tees on a number of occasions, McIlroy's game looked extremely sound on the eve of the $6.2m Houston Open.

"Rory's game is all good," said Bannon.

"The main problem was the back swing and that's fixed so it's all good stuff for this week and for the Masters.

"His 67 on the final day of Doral (at the WGC-Cadillac Championship this month) clearly showed that Rory's game was coming together as he played very well.

"And with Augusta now just two weeks away I am very pleased where his game is and this tournament here in Houston will bed in more what we've been doing.

"But if you look back on the history of Rory's swing this move from going outside to inside wasn't really typical of him so his takeaway now is more on plane."

Stockton, who was pivotal in McIlroy's PGA Championship success last August, had walked 18 holes with McIlroy of the Redstone course on Tuesday and he echoed Bannon's sentiments.

"All parts of Rory's game are good, and the irons and the woods are good while his putting is fine, too," said Stockton.

"It's now all a matter of hopefully building on how well he played at Doral as his last round was a great, positive final day's play.

"I saw Rory this new season at the Match-Play and the first thing that struck me was how good he was hitting all his new clubs.

"Everyone was blaming Nike and stuff after he was beaten by Shane (Lowry) but I never believed that.

"I've seen him hitting the clubs a lot now and the clubs look really good so I was surprised he had the trouble he had."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130328/golf-mcilroy-gets-masters-thumbs-coaches