Rory McIlroy had his final tune-up for the Masters, which takes place in two weeks time and where he’ll go in as the overwhelming favorite. McIlroy shot a lackluster two-under 70 in the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Despite his uninspired play this week, he still finished tied for 11th at 11-under total for the tournament and felt like he made some progress before he heads into the season’s first major.
“I definitely feel like I’ve taken some strides in the right direction,” said McIlroy. “There’s still a few things in my game I need to tidy up and work on. What I was working on last week, I feel like I’ve made progress in that and I get a couple weeks to work on some more stuff and hopefully be ready for the start of Augusta.”
McIlroy missed the cut in his 2015 debut on the PGA Tour at the Honda Classic after shooting rounds of 73-74. The week following, he finished T9 (backdoor top 10) at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, but didn’t have close to his A game in play. However, he did get off to a strong start on the European Tour, where he finished second and first at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the Omega Desert Dubai Classic, respectively. As of now, he didn’t sound too confident with where his game is at — though it’s important to note the world’s no. 1’s high standards.
“I feel okay,” said McIlroy. “I mean, there was progress made this week considering what I was working on last week after Doral. There are a couple areas of the game that I need to tidy up going in (to the Masters), but you know, I saw enough good signs, positive signs to be optimistic in the next couple of weeks and I know what I need to work on and I guess that wasn’t the main goal — obviously the main goal was to come here and try to win. I couldn’t do that. At least I got a couple things out of this week, which is good.”
McIlroy’s ballstriking was relatively solid all week. In Sunday’s final round, he hit 9/14 fairways and 14/18 greens — he ranked T10 in the field for the greens in regulation stat for the week. However, he feels like he could use some work around the greens.
“My wedge play needs quite a lot of work,” said McIlroy. “I’m not taking advantage of getting it up close to the green. If I’m getting ready just for Augusta and I’m thinking about it, there are quite a few wedges for me there and going to concentrate a lot on shots from 120 yards in the next couple of weeks and try to get that as sharp as I possibly can.”
He also thinks he could have been more focused and mentally tougher the last couple of days.
“I concentrated — mentally, probably a little soft for a few holes yesterday, probably for a few holes again today,” he said. “I was caught in between swings or caught in between shots instead of just being really decisive and committed to one shot. But I think that all comes with just being more and more comfortable and I feel like I’m getting there.”
The world no. 1 isn’t downtrodden with his play the last couple of weeks. In fact, since he’s seen progress, he could be peaking at the right time for Augusta National.
“I sort of like that because if I had played really well the last few weeks, how do I keep this going,” said McIlroy. “It’s almost like it’s nice to be able to try and build yourself up. I don’t feel like I’m right there. I feel like I’m just gradually building myself up, so it’s actually not a bad position to be in.”