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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Parsons

Rory McIlroy to face new test in bid for 2023 Masters after change to iconic Augusta

Rory McIlroy eagled the iconic par-5 13th on Masters Sunday last April as he threatened the most extraordinary comeback to complete the career Grand Slam.

Of course, the famed green jacket still eludes him but his best-ever finish at Augusta proved the catalyst for a sensational rise back to world number one.

We are two months out from the first major of the year but we can already say with relative certainty that McIlroy will be one of the big favourites to finally reign supreme in Georgia.

The Northern Irishman has been playing inspired golf ever since majestically holing out from the bunker on 18 to maintain hope of chasing Scottie Scheffler in the 2022 tournament, and there is compelling evidence that this could finally be his year.

McIlroy's came up just short last time round but he left Magnolia Lane with only happy memories of a thrilling back-nine Augusta assault.

The 33-year-old's eye-catching three on the 510 yard par-5 13th that lifted him into contention included a raking 3-wood off the tee and a sumptuous mid-iron over Rae's Creek into the heart of the green.

But McIlroy's approach to the final hole of Amen Corner could look different in 2023 after Augusta officials confirmed a change to its layout.

McIlroy took a 3-wood from the tee on 13 during last year's tournament (Getty Images)

The tee on 13, named Azalea, has been moved back 35 yards to counteract modern driving distances making the hole easily gettable in two. Big-hitters usually hit long-irons or metals off the tee and are still left with comfortable approach shots due to their increased length.

Masters chairman Fred Ridley conceded last year that the hole was no longer playing as 'was designed' with deliberations over a risk-reward second shot over the famous creek.

And the change to a 545-yard hole, while still not a lengthy par-5, will offer a new challenge and increase the risk of stray shots being penalised. The lengthened hole will require a new plan on the dogleg with players perhaps inclined to take more club to leave a more straightforward second.

The move follows the bump in yardages of the 11th and 15th last year, but it is the first time the 13th will play differently since McIlroy made his first Masters appearance in 2009.

And what he would give for a repeat of last year's back-nine magic if in contention once again come the second Sunday in April.

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