Rory McIlroy is purring about his game as he next heads to Augusta National for the Masters ten days after beating Scottie Scheffler in the WGC Dell Technologies consolation match in Austin, Texas.
It was the match everyone wanted to see in the match nobody wants to play as McIlroy eased to a 2&1 win over the world number one in the third and fourth place playoff.
There was a degree of uncertainty about McIlroy’s game heading into the week with a new driver and putter in the bag, but he got better with both clubs as the week went on and the rest of his game followed suit and now he feels ready for a Grand Slam tilt at “a little place in Augusta, Georgia.”
The Holywood native might have been walking away with his second Match Play title had he not been beaten on the 19th by eventual runner-up Cameron Young in the semi-final and he was pleased to recover and retain focus for the consolation match.
“Yeah, a tonne of positives to take away,” McIlroy said. “I think Scottie and I were both disappointed that we lost our matches this morning and it was a bit of a pillow fight there for quite a bit of the match.
“But, you know, we produced some good golf on the back nine and traded some birdies. And yeah, like tonnes of positives. You know, if you had told me I’d make it to the Sunday of the Match Play last week, I would have taken that.
“I had my chances against Cam this morning, just couldn’t quite put them away. But it was nice to come out here and get a win this afternoon.”
The decision to play in the Match Play rather than the Valero Texas Open looks a shrewd one as McIlroy got plenty of reps in under almost constant pressure and having visited Augusta prior to the WGC, he intends to spend another day at Magnolia Lane before Masters week.
“Day off tomorrow, I think rest, recover, refuel,” McIlroy told Sky Sports Golf. “You know, I’m gonna maybe go up there for a day and you know, mess around.
“I was already up there last week. I don’t think there’s any harm in going up again. So I’ll probably you know, maybe do that one day and then yeah, practice.
“I don’t think anything is in real need of tonnes of practice. I think my game is in really good shape. So just keep it ticking over. Work on the shots that I need for Augusta National and away we go.”
Sam Burns meanwhile romped to his fifth PGA Tour title and first – and probably last – WGC title with a thumping 6&5 win over Young in the final.
Burns was 1DN after two holes but sprinted clear of Young who remains winless on tour, making the turn in 3UP and he never looked back, wrapping up a drab final on 13.
“Yeah, crazy week. I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this week. This is my first time playing this event. I feel like I gained a little bit more confidence as each match kind of played on. And then playing Scottie this morning, I knew it was going to be a tough match and got off to a great start and then kind of got lost a little bit halfway through the round.
“Really, things kind of changed. I’ve got a new driver in play, the Callaway Paradym, and when I hit the tee shot on 12, I hit a really good one there and I feel like it kind of gave me a little bit of confidence after that, and then I was able to make a few birdies coming down the stretch and ultimately going to extra holes. I feel like I kind of carried that on to this afternoon.
“Yeah, this week is as mentally exhausting as it is physically. I think after 10 holes this morning, my caddie, Travis, kind of gave me a good kick in the butt and said, Come on man, let’s go, you got this. And I really needed it at the time. Man, he was rock solid all week. I couldn’t have done it without him. I’m just so thankful that he was out there with me battling every step of the way and thankful that we were the last one standing.”
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