Rory McIlroy will today set out to make up for his unconvincing start to the Valero Texas Open as he searches high and low for his 'A' game ahead of next week's Masters.
World number two McIlroy, 23, only added the Texas event to his schedule at the 11th hour after struggling to adapt to new equipment. The form which brought him five wins in 2012, including a second major at the US PGA Championship, has deserted the Northern Irishman.
With caddie JP Fitzgerald advising him that he needed more competitive rounds under his belt, McIlroy travelled to San Antonio and carded an opening level-par 72 to lie five shots behind Matt Bettencourt and Peter Tomasulo, who carded 67s to overtake a group including Padraig Harrington.
Starting from the 10th on the difficult Oaks Course, McIlroy went to two under but then bogeyed the 18th, first and second in succession. He atoned with birdies at the fifth and sixth moving him to one under, but a fourth bogey of the day on the ninth left him back where he started the day.
"The way I started the round I would have hoped for a little bit better," McIlroy said. "But I'm relatively pleased with the way I played. It could have been a little better, but it could have been a little worse too."
Looking ahead to today, he said: "I'll just go out and try to shoot a good number and get myself in position for the weekend."
McIlroy claimed his difficulties were more than anything tied in with his thinking process.
"More mental than anything else," he said. "I guess I felt like I hit a good shot into the 18th, and it came back into the water. Then I think that sort of got to me and that's why I bogeyed the first and hit a bad shot at the second. But once I started to regroup, I started to play pretty well on the way in.
"It's just about limiting those mistakes and it's definitely a more mental mistakes than it is physical."
Asked how he could tidy up his game, McIlroy added: "I don't know. Just stop doing them. It's hard to explain. I guess it just comes with play, and that's why I'm here this week, just to play and get some more competitive rounds."