Members of the God Squad have been handing out leaflets on the road opposite the entrance to Augusta National. They’ve been wearing T-shirts with slogan “Jesus Loves You” and “Jesus Saves”.

Most golf fans here believe their redemption lies not behind the Pearly Gates but inside the black gates of this heavenly golf course. They would have won more custom had they been selling T-shirts with slogans such as “Jesus Loves Rory,” or “Jesus Saves Par”.

The patrons (that’s spectators, not pub drinkers) have adopted Rory McIlroy. America’s fling with the 22-year-old from Holywood, Belfast has taken on Hollywood, Los Angeles proportions. America hugged Rory after his 80 on Sunday last year. They cheered his name and adored him here on Friday. He is at four-under-par and in a beautiful position to be fitted for his first green jacket.

Some dude by the 6th green yelled: “He’s coming. He’s coming.” They used to say that about Tiger. They say it about Rory now, too. The dude also yelled: “Roxanne, Roxanne”. He’s lost her in the melee that resembled the queue on the opening day of the Oxford Street sales. Presumably the dude wanted to remind Roxanne that she doesn’t have to wear that dress tonight.

With Tiger teeing off after lunch, thousands tramped up the 1st at 10.35am with Rory clutching their Bloody Marys in plastic 2012 Masters beakers. McIlroy praised the support he had at Augusta. “It doesn’t quite feel like a home game but I certainly don’t feel like a foreigner. It’s really nice to hear and see them all.”

The Rory Love Train leaves the station again on Saturday. If you don’t have a ticket, pull up a sofa, pour yourself a large one and switch on your TV.

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