HUMBLE, Texas – Once the frost thawed, Rory McIlroy was back at work Wednesday morning trying to find a swing he could trust and repeat.
McIlroy hasn’t looked anything like the No. 1 player this year, and now he’s not. That spot belongs to Tiger Woods, who won for the third time in 2 months to become the favorite going into the Masters.
None of this bothers McIlroy.
He is more concerned with the path of his swing. He wants to win, though there is a pragmatic side to the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland. He still hasn’t made the cut against a full field this year.
That makes the Houston Open more than just a final tuneup for the first major of the year.
“I want to get back to getting into contention in tournaments and trying to win,” McIlroy said. “I think this is a good week to try and get into contention, have a chance with the Masters coming up.”
McIlroy is in a strong field at the Houston Open, where the tournament tries to give players a taste of what they might see in 2 weeks.
Under more scrutiny than he had ever faced – a new place in the game, a new equipment deal with Nike – McIlroy tripped badly coming out of the blocks.
He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi and lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship. Frustration boiled over to the point that he walked out in the second round of the Honda Classic.
Optimism came from Doral, a World Golf Championship event with no cut. McIlroy broke par for the first time all year and closed with a 65 to crack the top 10.
“We go through highs and lows,” McIlroy said. “It’s just sport and that’s golf.”