AUGUSTA, Ga. – If Rory McIlroy was destined to win all four major championships and run a Grand Slam, he would undoubtedly be the first to say that even he is surprised that the Masters is the missing one.
Of the four biggest tournaments in the game – alongside the US Open, The Open and PGA Championship – Northern Ireland seemed to be the most suitable. 
There is a mix of possibilities who will go away with the green jacket. Some have completed Rory McIlroy's Grand Slam. Some have Justin Rose avenged his playoff loss a year ago. Oh, and yes, they took the plunge and rode with Tiger.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson treated their competitive rivalry as well as their budding friendship after their practice session on Tuesday at the Masters
The age of 40 has lately become less curious. And the trend could continue this week at the Masters, when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and other 40-year-olds will turn their eyes to this green jacket.
Four consecutive top 10 results seem to confirm this, as does the average of 71.82. The fact that he leads the 54-hole lead in 2011 and is on the verge of victory is another example.
But McIlroy spectacularly blew the Masters into a final round of 80 – and won four majors over the next three years, including the next at the US Open. He added two PGA Championships and The Open and won back-to-back in 2014.
That brought him to the pinnacle of his Grand Slam career by winning the Masters, a task he would do again when the 82nd. Masters Tournament starts on Thursday.
"I'm an avid fan of the story of the game, and I know a victory here and what that would mean and where I would go down in history alongside some of the greatest players ever to play this game, and I would mean a lot, "said McIlroy.
"But I have to try to get rid of it, come Thursday morning and go out and play good golf, hit good golf shots, have a good course management, hole putts, if that's enough, hopefully the result on Sunday night will be lowest of all 87 who are here, and you go away with something you will have for the rest of your life. "
What McIlroy, 28, would have is a place alongside Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to own any of the four major championships in a career.  Phil Mickelson also has the chance to win with a win at the US Open. Jordan Spieth can do it by winning the PGA Championship.
Among the greats who never did the trick? Arnold Palmer. Tom Watson. Lee Trevino. Sam Snead. Byron Nelson
McIlroy has learned that if you do not get caught, McIlroy is probably the smartest way to keep going. Three years ago, having won The Open and PGA in successive launches in 2014, he came with considerable hype and attention to Augusta National
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"I felt this anticipation, and I built it up almost a bit too much in my head," he said. "I do not feel I'm standing under any radar, I'm coming here with a goal to win the tournament and I'm sure everyone who plays this tournament has the same goals and that's all I do trying to do. "
To this end, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks ago was a great help. It ended an 18-month track without a win and gave him a confidence boost. Perhaps just as important, he would not have to ask himself why he did not win so long.
Then there is the preparation. McIlroy came to Augusta last week and played 54 holes in two days. A few weeks earlier he had 36 holes.
Although the conditions during the tournament are unlikely to be the same, it does not hurt to get the seat as familiar as possible.
Surprisingly, this will be McIlroy's 10th master. He was aware that Ben Hogan and Sam Snead won in their tenth appearances – and that Arnold Palmer was 28 when he won the first of his four.
None of this is important if McIlroy does not score the scores.
"I never get in here thinking that I've finished my time, and now it's my turn – because it's never up to you," he said. It's not going to fall in your lap, you have to go out and win the champions, and you have to go and earn it, and I'm here this week to earn anything. "