THREE-TIMES Masters champion Nick Faldo believes Rory McIlroy will return to Augusta next year a stronger player for the experience of Sunday’s final round capitulation.
The 21-year-old Northern Irishman led the tournament after 63 holes but quickly saw a four-shot overnight lead evaporate before going on to card a nightmarish round of 80.
Faldo, who benefited from the most infamous Masters choke of all-time in 1996 when Greg Norman threw away a five-shot lead on the final day to eventually lose by six strokes, believes McIlroy won’t be adversely affected by his Augusta trauma.
“He’s young and I am sure he will regroup and come back stronger,” said Faldo. “He was thrown in at the deep end and this is a serious deep end. You are there on your own, things get out of sync and you lose your tempo.”
Norman, meanwhile, who failed to win another Major after his collapse at the Masters, said: “I knew exactly how Rory felt – I’ve experienced it.
“What is it with golf destiny? Isn’t it strange? It taps you on the back of your head and it either pushes you ahead or pushes you back. Who determines that? It’s crazy.”
Luke Donald, McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team-mate who finished in fourth place, added: “It’s tough – my heart goes out to Rory. He’ll bounce back, I’m sure. He’s just got to take the learning experience from this.”