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Rory looks good after rekindling love for game


By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy produced his best putting performance of the season in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and insisted his long winter break helped him rekindle his love for the game.

The Co Down man (28) holed 110-feet of putts on the slickest greens seen on the US circuit this year, rattling in eight putts between six and 25 feet en route to a two-under 70.

It's exactly the boost the World No.13 needed just three weeks before The Masters and the key was a change to a 34-and-a-half inch-long putter and his efforts to be more "instinctive and reactive" rather than technical and wooden on the greens.

Playing the seventh of eight pre-Masters events - and his fifth in six weeks - he insisted he's glad he took three months off after a difficult 2017.

Has it paid off?

"I'll tell you after Augusta!" he said with a grin. "Yeah, I think so. I definitely don't feel like I've gone stale or in any way frustrated or feel like it's tedious playing all these weeks in a row.

"I like being out here, I like playing golf. I feel like over the last couple of months of 2017 into this year I sort of rediscovered my love for the game a little bit. I'm even enjoying playing casual rounds of golf more."

Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau are tied for the lead at 11 under. Taylor Gooch is two shots back at nine under.

Tiger Woods survived a sluggish start to shoot an even-par 72.

Woods, who remained four under for the tournament, opened his round with a two-over 38 on his front nine, but he bounced back with a two-under 34 on the back nine.

When Woods made his second bogey of the day it snapped a streak of four straight rounds with no more than one bogey or worse. His three-putt on nine was his first since the 16th hole on Sunday of The Honda Classic. He had gone exactly 100 holes without one in between.

Thought not always at his best, Woods made a number of great par saves, including one for the ages on the par-four 15th.

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