Valero Rory’s Master(s) key?
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour
Don't count out Rory!

Don’t count out Rory at Augusta!

Rory McIlroy came up just short of capturing the Valero Texas Open title, but he was perfectly fine with the result — he achieved everything he intended with his last-minute decision to play in San Antonio.

The world no. 2 shot a final-round six-under 66, -12 total, which he thought might be good enough for the win, but Martin Laird fired an impressive nine-under 63, including birdies on the last three holes to best McIlroy by three shots. 

“I think over the last three rounds especially just eliminating the stupid mistakes that I was making on the course, mental errors,” said Rory, following his round on Sunday, when asked for the most important thing he’s accomplished in the Alamo. “You know, to finish off this tournament with a round like today is obviously great going into Augusta.  

“Even though, I didn’t get the trophy, Martin just played too good today.  I mean, 63 out there in these conditions is phenomenal.  I’m really pleased with my game, and I think this is a great week for me, but he was always just a little step ahead of me.  And it was tough to catch him.  He deserves it.  To shoot 63 out there in those conditions is a really good score.”

The most important part is that Rory, who added the Valero to his schedule upon the suggestion of his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald during the second round of the Shell Houston Open, feels that his game is ready for the season’s first major this week at Augusta National Golf Club.

“I didn’t quite get the win, but everything that I wanted to accomplish this week, I accomplished,” said Rory. “I feel really good going into next week.”

With 17 competitive rounds under his belt, McIlroy, who struggled early in the season, has declared himself ready for the Masters. Despite the growing pains in 2013, Rory wasn’t concerned he’d be prepared for Augusta.

“It doesn’t take long,” said Rory. “Just to turn around and you’re off, at least that is the case for me.  I guess I was more hopeful than expecting going into the last couple of tournaments.  But I think I know now where my game is at, and I’m happy with it.  I’m really looking forward to next week.”

Rory, who finished T1 in green in regulation, is pleased with all aspects of his game, but will focus on fine-tuning his short game when he tees it up again on Tuesday.

“I think everything else is pretty good,” he said. “Iron play is good, driving the ball, I didn’t quite drive the ball that well today, but my 3‑wood was working pretty good.  All in all, it’s really in a good place, and I’m looking forward to next week.”

Now, with Rory’s runner-up performance on the eve of one of the most-anticipated weeks in golf, does this change your outlook on his chances to seriously contend at the Masters? Here at WUP, we’ll stand by what we said last week, which is, yes, why not? Both D.A. Points and Martin Laird showed in the past two tournaments that it doesn’t matter what your form is going into an event, anyone can turn it around and play their way into the winner’s circle. I mean, duh.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)