Rory McIlroy is in pole position to claim Masters glory and complete the career Grand Slam, according to the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
The Northern Irishman has four major crowns to his name but is missing the iconic green jacket, and suffered heartbreak in an infamous fourth-round collapse at Augusta in 2011.
Nicklaus, who holds the record with 18 major titles, was a six-time champion at the Masters and he believes McIlroy's form on the back of his recent Arnold Palmer Invitational victory means he heads into Thursday's opening round as the favourite.
"I talked to him this weekend and saw a few things and he is really swinging well, the best I've ever seen him swing," Nicklaus told the Golf Channel.
"He obviously putted very well at Bay Hill so he's going to be tough to beat.
"If you picked anybody he'd be the number one to pick and rightly so. He's probably playing better than anyone else.
"You have to go and earn it. And I'm here this week to earn it all."https://t.co/bp5Ih6DpOM— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) April 4, 2018
"You play it [Augusta] every year, you can prepare for it easier, once you play the greens you should know them. If you're not a long, high-ball player you can eliminate half the field before you even start.
"No tournament is easy to win, don't misunderstand me, but of the majors a top player has a better shot here than any other place."