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Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson seek exclusive company at Masters

Rory McIlroy hits from a bunker on the second hole during a practice round for the Masters on Monday in Augusta, Ga. (AP photo)

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy stopped by to encourage Tiger Woods as he recovers from multiple leg injuries and might have come away with some inspiration of his own.

“In his family room he’s got this trophy cabinet and it’s his 15 major trophies,” McIlroy said Tuesday. “I said, ‘That’s really cool. Where are all the others?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Woods — who isn’t playing this year because of injuries from a car crash in February — has 82 victories on the PGA Tour alone, a record he shares with Sam Snead, and more than a dozen others from the European, Asian, Japan and Australian tours.

“He said, ‘Yeah, my mom has some, and a few are in the office and a few are wherever,'” McIlroy said. “I was driving home and I was thinking, ‘That’s all he cared about. So how easy that must have felt for him to win all the others.’ That was just always in my mind. He talked about, ‘These are the four weeks that matter.'”

Only one week matters to McIlroy now, and not just because it’s the first week in April at Augusta National.

The Masters — Woods has five of those silver trophies — is the one major keeping McIlroy from joining the most elite company in golf by completing the career Grand Slam. Woods was the most recent in 2000. The others are Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.

He isn’t alone in his pursuit of trying to join an exclusive group.

McIlroy played his first practice round of the week with Dustin Johnson, the defending champion who established the scoring record of 20-under 268 in November when the course was much softer.

Only three other players have won the Masters back-to-back. Woods was the last to achieve that in 2002.

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