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McIlroy embraces reality check

World number one Rory McIlroy has welcomed the "kick in the backside" provided by missing the cut in last week's Honda Classic as he returns to action in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.

McIlroy had won the Dubai Desert Classic in his previous event but saw his 2015 PGA Tour debut come to an end after two days following rounds of 73 and 74 at PGA National.

However, the four-time major winner feels that could be something of a blessing in disguise given the lengthy weather delays which resulted in a Monday finish and the work it highlighted he needed to do on his game.

"I could have approached it two ways," McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference. "I could have got really down on myself and wondered where that had come from or thought this was the first event after a three-week break and there were things that need to be sharper.

"Sometimes you need a little kick in the backside to make you realise what you need to do. I was disappointed but I feel like it has given me clarity on what I needed to do on my game going forward.

"It was my mum's birthday on the Friday night so we went out for a nice dinner and then got back to work on Saturday."

McIlroy admitted he struggled to play his usual controlled draw in the wind last week but appeared to have quickly ironed out the problems after shooting a 63 to win a pro-member event at Seminole Golf Club on Monday.

The 25-year-old will play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in a fortnight's time before fully turning his attention to trying to complete the career grand slam with victory in the Masters in April, although he will take a "social" trip to play Augusta with his father and some friends next week.

"There is always excitement and anticipation and hype surrounding Augusta and I feel it regardless whether I am going in there as favourite or under the radar," McIlroy said. "It's the first major of the year and really the start of the golfing season for the general public.

"Right now I'm taking it week by week. After Bay Hill I will start to think about it more and every practice session will be looking ahead at the shots I need.

"I think the best way to go in is to have confidence but sometimes if you go in with low expectations that can help as well. If things were to go the right way at Augusta I would not care if I had gone in there with two wins or two missed cuts."

McIlroy can at least pick the brains of two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson at Doral after being paired with the world number two and third-ranked Henrik Stenson for the two opening days.


From Belfast Telegraph