Rory McIlroy headed into a fortnight’s break from competition takingplenty of positives after contesting two new PGA Tour events for a very first time in his pro career.
McIlroy added a share of fifth place in his maiden appearance at the Farmers Insurance Open to a share of fourth in his debut showing earlier this month at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and said;
“Of the eight rounds of golf I have now played this new year, I would say I have only been disappointed with one and that was the last day at Kapalua,” after shooting a closing Farmers Insurance 69 for a 14-under par total.
“So, with seven rounds out of eight I have been very pleased. I feel I have made some good strides with my golf swing in comparison to the end of last year and I’ve also made good strides with other parts of my game.”
Included in McIlroy’s Torrey Pines final round 69 were four birdies and just the one bogey that left him trailing a distance of seven shots behind victorious 2018 Ryder Cup team-mate, Justin Rose who also signed for a 69 and captured a 24th pro career title by two shots at 21-under par.
In the process, the 38-year old Rose broke clear of Nick Faldo to become the most successful Englishman on the PGA Tour with 10 Tour victories in the modern era.
Aussie Adam Scott birdied his closing four holes in a round of 68 to finish runner-up at 19-under.
McIlroy’s efforts this New Year maybe were not as good as some of his European Tour Middle East Swing results in recent years, including finishing runner-up in the 2015 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and then heading to Dubai a week and capture a second Omega Dubai Desert Classic crown.
However, in the bigger PGA Tour picture, McIlroy will return to the Tour for the February 14th starting Genesis Open at Riviera in suburban L.A. at least not having to play FedEx Cup catch-up, something he spoke about passionately earlier this month ahead of teeing-up in Hawaii.
Indeed, McIlroy is lying 49th on the FedEx Cup standings from his three counting events of the 2018/19 PGA Tour schedule.
“It’s been a great week being here at Torrey Pines for the first time and not really knowing what to expect, so I feel like I’ve had a great week and to be 14-under par for the week including finishing with three rounds in the 60s is not too bad,” he said.
“I felt my swing a little bit today was not under control as it was for the first couple of days but I hung in there well and I made some decent up-and-downs when I needed to, but then I always felt I was that too far behind to challenge Justin and try and win the tournament.
“Though in saying that I went out there today trying to play a really solid round of golf, and maybe I could have squeezed out a couple more birdies but considering how I felt with my swing today anything in the 60s is pretty good.
“What I am really excited about heading to this break is my short-game and my putting, as I am holing out well and I am holing the putts I need to hole to keep momentum of rounds going.
“Maybe from 15 to 20-feet I didn’t hole that many this week but definitely inside of 10-feet, inside of eight-feet, and they’re the ones I really need to hole, I holed out pretty well.
“So, most aspects of the game are feeling pretty good and I will work on some stuff with the swing and get ready for L.A.”
McIlroy indicated long-time coach, Michael Bannon had spent time with him after his Hawaiian start to 2019 and arrangements are in place for Bannon to again visit McIlroy at the Bears Club before he heads off to Los Angeles mid-next month.
A check of McIlroy’s Farmers Insurance Open stats over the four days reveals:-
OFF THE TEE
Average Driving Distance – 317.5 yards (Best drive – 335.4 yards, day 3). Ranked 4th
Driving Accuracy – 31 of 56 fairways. Ranked T31st
APPROACH TO GREEN
Hit 49 of 72 greens. Ranked 34th
AROUND THE GREEN
Sand Saves – 5 of 8. Ranked T24th
Scrambling – 18 of 23. Ranked T3rd
Putts: 29 (day one), 24(day two), 29 (day three) and 27 (day four). Ranked T31st
Strokes gained overall – 5.589. Ranked T20th