Rory McIlroy, away from the glare of the spotlight as good pal Tiger Woods took center stage all week at Doral, shot a final-round 7-under 65 and got back into the convo a week after his regrettable withdrawal from the Honda Classic.
Fortunately for the world No. 1, who has taken considerable heat about his equipment change after a terrible start to his 2013 season, the WGC-Cadillac Championship is a no-cut event. With a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, a first-round loss in match play, and his much-criticized WD from the Honda, for which he apologized profusely, the contest gave McIlroy the chance to play four consecutive competitive rounds for the first time this year.
It paid off, as McIlroy played his way onto the front page of the leader board.
“There’s been a significant improvement,” McIlroy told NBC after finishing at 10-under -- a huge boost following an opening-round 73. “I practiced hard last weekend...and all week.
“I’ve found something,” added McIlroy. “A lot more comfortable with what I’m trying to do and it’s nice that the scores reflect that.”
After three straight rounds under par, McIlroy’s confidence with his swing, which he had been struggling with as he got used to his new Nike clubs, was high enough that he stood firm on not adding the Tampa Bay Championship or Arnold Palmer Invitational to his pre-Augusta to-do list.
“No, I’ll just play Houston [Open] and the Masters. I’ll stick to the original schedule,” he said.
McIlroy’s scorecards boasted 10 birdies and an eagle for an 11-under in his last 26 holes. He’ll tee it up next -- but for a reported rematch of sorts with No. 2 at Woods’ home course -- starting March 28 in Houston. The Masters kicks off on April 11.