Rory McIlroy eyes Augusta after struggle at Doral

Rory McIlroy is hoping two days practice this week at Augusta National and the remainder of the week on the Bear’s Club practice will rekindle the spark in World No. 1’s golf game.

McIlroy brought the crowd to their feet in chipping in for double bogey at the final hole in a round of 72 for an expected share of ninth place on the final day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral.

However McIlroy could have been easily tempted to again hurl his now famous Nike ‘Vapor’ 3-iron into the lake guarding the last after first finding water with his driver before then pulling out the 3-iron and see his third also find the same water on the Blue Monster course.

Ahead of his round, tournament host Donald Trump milked the hype surrounding McIlroy hurling the 3-iron into water on Friday by returning the club to him on the practice range and with McIlroy sliding the club back into his bag but promising the club to Trump afterwards, who will have it framed and mounted in the clubhouse.

“We all know Donald as he’s never one to miss an opportunity,” said McIlroy smiling.

“But it was fine. It was all good fun.”

However four days when McIlroy failed to break 70 was no occasion to break out the champagne.

“The game’s just not quite there so I am pretty disappointed with how I played overall,” the Irishman said.

“I felt it was a little better again today for the most part but it’s just not 100%. It’s not as though there’s any alarm bells ringing but my inability to hit the ball right-to-left isn’t something that you want going into Augusta.

“So I just have to get back to it tomorrow on the range and try and figure it out.”

McIlroy will head to Augusta National tomorrow spending two days playing alongside his father Gerry, Seminole Club president and Augusta member Jimmy Payne, and four-time Superbowl New England Patriots quarter-back Tom Brady.

Shane Lowry also struggled in posting a 74 to share 17th place and like McIlroy also failing to break par on any of the four days.

And Graeme McDowell was back in his Orlando residence before the event finished, nursing his wounds after a final round 77 for a 10-over par tally.

It was McDowell’s highest score in 40 rounds of the championship as well as his highest 72-hole tally by eight shots.

McDowell commenced his last round with three straight bogeys and ended bogey, double bogey, and with just three birdies on his scorecard.

“It is still early in the year, and I have got a little bit of work to do on my game so it’s a work in progress,” he said.

“The last round was actually the best I have hit it this week as I have been struggling with moving the ball left to right. I am starting to get it a little bit this weekend, and that is the key to my game, getting the fade back in the bag.

“This golf course exposes you when you are not on your game, these conditions, if you are not controlling your ball flight, which I didn’t do really well early in the week.

“I am not scrambling well around the greens, this place is just going to expose you, and it did that.

“I’ve learnt lessons, a lot to work on and we will move on. It’s early in the season, only tournament number four for me.

“It is not the start I wanted, but you have to just keep chipping away. It’s a long old season thankfully.”

In fact, McDowell’s results this season read T9th (Dubai Desert Classic), T36th (Malaysian Open), Missed Cut (Honda Classic) and T57th (Cadillac Championship).

McDowell has a week off before the short drive to Bay Hill and March 19, starting Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Bay Hill’s a golf course that has been good to me in the past and I have added San Antonio to my schedule, the Valero Texas, as it sounds like it will suit me,” McDowell said.

“Then I will have a few days off before Augusta, with one eye already on Augusta at this time of the year, of course.

“But I am looking at the big picture as I have got to get myself to click back into gear. Get myself back in the red and make some good swings under pressure at the weekend.

“That’s really what I need right now but there is no panic buttons.

“I have had a decent break and this is when it starts to pay off the next few months, the freshness and I have just got to play a little better.”


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