McIlroy will be tested with Cabrera pairing

Rory McIlroy waits on the 10th hole after an errant tee shot during the final round of the 2011 Masters.

Rory McIlroy waits on the 10th hole after an errant tee shot during the final round of the 2011 Masters.

AUGUSTA, Ga. – World No. 2 Rory McIlroy didn’t get the best of draws for the first two rounds of the 2012 Masters.

In the second-to-last tee time Thursday, McIlroy again is paired with two-time major winner Angel Cabrera (as well as Bubba Watson). McIlroy was in the last twosome with Cabrera during the final round a year ago when he shot 80 (43 on the back nine) and blew a four-shot lead.

McIlroy admittedly got out of his rhythm playing with Cabrera, one of the game’s fastest players. He found himself speeding up and waiting, and it didn’t work.

“He plays so quick,” McIlroy said recently, at the Honda Classic. “He dictated the pace of the round. We were always waiting on our second shots. He tees it up and hits it.”

So the kid learned a lesson. One that he will have to apply to Thursday and Friday.

“(I learned) if I ever get paired with someone again who plays that quickly – or that slowly, whatever way it goes – you really have to dictate the pace of play yourself and do your own thing and not try and either keep up with the guy that you're playing with or slow yourself down with the guy that you're playing with,” he said. “You just need to try and do your own thing.”

Of course, McIlroy went on to win the next major, the U.S. Open, by eight strokes two months later. But we’re back at the Masters with the same sidekick, so needless to say it will be interesting to see how he handles the Cabrera pace this time.

McIlroy, 22, said he has watched tape of the Masters blowup once – at home a couple of weeks later. That kind of reflection exposed another flaw.

“My whole attitude completely changed from the Saturday to the Sunday,” McIlroy said. “I came out and was trying to be this player that I'm not. I was trying to be ultra-focused, tunnel-visioned (read: Tiger Woods), which just isn't like me. I'm usually pretty chatty and sort of looking around and being quite relaxed about the whole thing.”

Hence, that was another element that worked against him. Cabrera doesn’t speak much English and isn’t one to gab.

“Not too chatty,” McIlroy said.

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