McIlroy takes the positives as he heads for Riviera

Bernie McGuire
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McIlroy takes the positives as he heads for Riviera

Rory McIlroy was looking on the positive side despite missing the cut in his first appearance at the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

After a third and a second on the European Tour’s Middle East Swing it was no pay cheque for McIlroy after rounds of 68, 74 and 72 for a one-over par tally as he fell short of the cut mark by two shots.

On the plus side, McIlroy got to play three great courses including Pebble Beach that will host next year’s U.S. Open but the negative of his maiden appearance on the PGA Tour this season, the current World No.8 putted disastrously.

And of the five top-10 ranked players in the Pebble Beach field – Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day being the others – McIlroy was the only one dismissed early.

But then to his enormous credit McIroy spoke of his three rounds before heading south to suburban Los Angeles and next week’s Genesis Open.

“Honestly, I’m fine, because my ball-striking was really good for the three days,” he said. “I just left too many shots out there. I have to learn to trust my lines, especially on these poa annua greens. I have a little bit of work to do in that regard, but I’m really looking forward to Riviera. I love that golf course, and I expect some better results.”

McIlroy, who enjoyed a strong start to his year on the European Tour after an injury-plagued 2017, admitted that the greens “got in my head” after Friday’s 38 whacks at Monterey Peninsula CC, highlighted by five unfulfilling putting strokes at the par-4 fifth, his 14th hole of the day which contributed to his three round putting tally of 90 strokes.

“I hit the ball well. I hit the ball well at Spyglass, and I scored well. I missed two greens yesterday, only missed one fairway, and I shot three-over,” he said.

“So that wasn’t too good on the greens. Today I hit some really good shots and, yeah, I just needed a few putts to fall, and I think sometimes with these poa annua greens you start to get a little bit tentative with them and it just gets away from you. So I let the greens yesterday get into my head a little bit, and it was hard to get out of that mindset.”

But then if McIlroy needed a positive to take with him to the Genesis he got that at Pebble’s famed 18th.

After pulling his tee shot left into the rocks at the par-5 18th, he took a penalty drop and proceeded to laser a 4-iron from 238 yards that found the front of the green, tracked towards the hole and rattled off the flagstick.

McIlroy sank the 9-foot birdie putt and a great positive note to end a rather no-frills three days.

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