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Rory McIlroy’s caddie convinces him to add pre-Masters Texas tourney

Scott Halleran

Rory Mcilroy has had JP Fitzgerald on his bag since midway through 2008, his first full season as professional. So when his caddie suggested he might want to add next week’s Valero Texas Open to his schedule as a prelude to the Masters in two weeks, the world’s No. 2 golfer took it under advisement.

“Something I hadn’t thought about until basically after I finished yesterday,” McIlroy, who got off to a hot start in Saturday’s third round of the Shell Houston Open but limped in with a 1-under 71, told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands.

“JP was the one that mentioned it to me, said, ‘If we just play a few more rounds, I think you’re going to be ready [for Augusta],’ and I didn’t really think about it too much,” said McIlroy, who carded three birdies on his front nine and three bogeys -- including on the par-4 18th -- on the back.

The two-time major champion had some lunch and chewed on Fitzgerald’s suggestion.

“I started to think about it and I texted him and said, ‘I don’t think this is a bad idea,’” McIlroy said. “It probably took me an hour or two to sort of think about it and decide that I was going to play.”

As for his up-and-down play on Saturday that had him at 2-under for the week and well back of the frontrunners, McIlroy noted his shaggy close, acknowledging he could use some more competitive action to get his game in shape.

“I obviously had it going early on. I think I was 4-under thru 12 and had a five-foot putt to go to 5-under through 13 and 3-putted there and didn’t have the best of finishes,” he said, “But I saw a lot of positives out there. I hit the ball really well, it’s the best I’ve hit it on the course this week and really happy with my game.

“Just need to sort of eradicate those few stupid mistakes out there,” said McIlroy, repeating the mantra he has chanted for much of the week while saying he needed to become more committed to his shots when it counted.

“It’s all well and good hitting it well on the range,” he added. “But you’ve got to go out there and do it on the course and I feel like I’m finally beginning to do that.”

Thanks to his long-time looper, he'll have at least two rounds in San Antonio to continue his Masters preparations.