Rory McIlroy to tune up for the Masters at Valero Texas Open

Scott Halleran

Rory McIlroy got in just under the wire -- to make the cut at this week’s Shell Houston Open and to play in the Valero Texas Open, which starts on Thursday.

McIlroy committed to the additional event late Friday afternoon, according to the tournament’s website.

The world’s No. 2 golfer apparently determined that, despite just making it to the weekend in Houston and guaranteeing himself two more competitive rounds, his game needed more work before next month’s Masters. Rounds of 73 and 70 ensured that McIlroy made this week's cut on the number, after which he gave no indication he intended to play in San Antonio.

“No one likes missing cuts and especially it's my last one before the Masters,” he told reporters Friday. “Nice to have another couple of rounds, do some work on the range this afternoon and hopefully improve on the course that I've already done.”

Adhering to a spotty schedule in which Friday’s was only his 10th full stroke-play round this season -- thanks to a missed cut in Abu Dhabi and a withdrawal from the Honda Classic -- McIlroy had spurned the advice of many who believed the former No. 1 needed more play under pressure with his new Nike clubs. He conceded, after his shaggy first round at Redstone Golf Club that he needed more reps, his confidence was lacking, and he had to commit more to his shots.

McIlroy has played just four tourneys worldwide this season, including the Accenture Match Play Championship, and fared well enough in his final round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship to finish T8. He lost his top ranking to Tiger Woods last week after Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Last year, McIlroy took almost a month off before heading to Augusta and finished T40. In his first appearance in San Antonio, he’ll compete against a field that includes European Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter, Accenture Match Play champion Matt Kuchar, as well as his old pal Shane Lowry, who ousted him in the first round of match play.

McIlroy began the third round in Houston nine shots back of 36-hole leader Steve Wheatcroft. After three birdies -- including back-to-back birds on seven and eight to start his Saturday round, he was at 4-under and in contention.


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