Rory McIlroy reckons his decision to contest an unprecedented eight events this New Year leading into next month’s Masters has helped him rediscover his love for the game.
Rory McIlroy / Image from @TourMiss
This was very evident in his demeanour in being assured of two further Arnold Palmer Invitational rounds in his final stroke-play event ahead of The Masters.
McIlroy capped his second day with a Bay Hill hat-trick of birdies from his 13th hole in a round of 70 for a five-under par tally to be trailing six shots behind the clubhouse leading duo of Henrik Stenson (69) and American Bryson DeChambeau (66).
In-form Rickie Fowler (71) who played alongside is at six-under par.
The World No. 13 ranked McIlroy has clearly got his putting back in order, and elected to turn to a longer length putter, posting just 24 putts on day one and 27 on day two of the $8.9m event.
But what McIlroy was intending to work-on as the afternoon half took to the Bay Hill course, including Tiger Woods, was straightening out the longest club in his bag having only managed to hit 14 of 28 fairways over the two days.
“I’m feeling great, feeling good and happy to be here for the weekend, so happy to have two more rounds to play,” he said.
“I think also my decision to play seven stroke-play events and then next week’s match-play has been a good decision and is turning out well.
“I definitely don’t feel like I’ve got stale or in any way frustrated or tedious playing all these weeks in a row or monotonous as I have liked being out here. I like playing golf and I feel like over the last couple of months from late in 2017 to now I have rediscovered my love for the game so much so I am even enjoying playing casual rounds of golf, as well.”
And it prompted one journalist to boldly ask when was the last time McIlroy had thrown a golf club in anger.
“Ummm, I haven’t thrown one for a long time that I can remember but I had thought about it,” McIlroy said smiling.
In fact, the last occasion McIlroy threw a club was the now famous 3-iron into the water during the 2015 WGC – Cadillac Championship on the Blue Monster course at Trump Doral in Miami.
Then USA Presidential candidate Donal Trump had a scuba diver retrieve the club and in a typical Trump showman-like manner returned the club with plenty of fanfare to an embarrassed McIlroy. McIlroy, who apologised for his actions, gave the club to the Trump Doral and it’s now on display in the Pro Shop.
McIlroy will wind-up his Augusta preparations contesting next week’s WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship in Austin, Texas.
Graeme McDowell fought back from three bogeys in his opening eight hole to then birdie four over his closing 10 hole in a round of 72 to make the cut on three-under and T25th while both Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry were cut, with Harrington posting a second day 75 that included a horror ‘9’ at the par-4 sixth hole he was contesting as his 15th.
Harrington found water with his tee shot, them missed the green right and then proceeded to take five shots from just off the green some 44-feet from the flag. He birdied the next but missed the cut by a shot.
And Shane Lowry’s miserable start to the New Year continue in posting rounds of 75 and 72 for a three-over tally for his third missed cut in seven Tour events this year Stateside.