Rory McIlroy is looking to continue making an impact in the United States this week when he tees off on familiar ground at the WGC-CA Championship in Florida.
The teenager has excelled on his first trip to the United States as a professional but, when he takes his place in the 80-man field at Doral Golf Resort near Miami, he will be returning to an old stomping ground from his schoolboy days.
McIlroy, 19, was nine when he won the prestigious Doral Junior Publix Under-10 tournament and, a decade later, ranked 16th in the world, he is intent on improving on a run of form in the US that has seen him reach the quarter-finals of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and land a top-20 finish yesterday in the Honda Classic.
“I’m hoping to do a little better next week,” McIlroy said.
“I can’t wait. I’ve played a lot of junior golf at Doral, so it will be nice to get back. It will be nice to get back to a place that I’m familiar with.
“As I said, if I can just keep playing the way I have been, maybe just try and give myself a few more opportunities and try and limit my bogeys, I’ll hopefully have another good one next week.”
Playing his first strokeplay tournament as a professional in America, McIlroy finished tied for 13th at the Honda Classic, carding a two-under-par 273 for the week at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, seven strokes adrift of Korea’s YE Yang.
It could have been much better for the 19-year-old, however, as McIlroy closed bogey-bogey to fall out of a top-10 finish in only his second PGA Tour event.
Having found the greenside bunker on the way to a four at the par-three 17th, McIlroy sent his second shot at the 604-yard, par-five 18th into water.
He took a penalty stroke with a drop into the right rough, 130 yards from the hole and took another three shots to get home for a six, and final round of one-under 69.
That left the Holywood golfer one shot off the top 10 as Yang closed in on victory.
“It went well,” McIlroy said. “I’m pretty disappointed the way I finished. I got myself into a great position and just let it slip.
“I played a lot better last week at the Match Play than I did this week but I still finished top 15. It’s been a solid week. I was hoping for a little better but I still have a big event next week to try and do well there.”
Yang, meanwhile, was today added to the WGC-CA field for Doral, following his maiden PGA Tour title, alongside runner-up John Rollins and Davis Love III.
Both Yang and Rollins qualify having moved into the top 10 of the FedExCup standings while Love’s tie for 13th was enough for the 1997 US PGA Champion to move to 50th in the Official World Golf Ranking and earn the final berth in the field.