Rory McIlroy admits getting his early season schedule wrong declaring he should have entered the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after the huge embarrassment for Nike in missing the cut a fortnight earlier in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The World No. 2 revealed this after putting four balls into the water in what was just his twelfth completed round of golf this year ahead of signing for a two under par 70 and a four under tally in the Shell Houston Open.
Overall, McIlroy recorded 15 birdies over the four days but also nine bogeys and an opening round double bogey.
McIlroy delivered four of his prize Nike balls into water over the last day including a drive off the third, his second shot into the 11th, a drive at the next and then his drive into a hazard splitting the 15th fairway.
“Apart from hitting those four balls into water, it was pretty solid,” he said.
“I feel like my short game is sharp and I putter pretty nice, so it wasn’t too bad. Just again if I can limit those sloppy mistakes, I’ll be fine.”
Now in an 11th hour decision McIlroy was taking the three-hour drive west from Houston along I-10 to San Antonio looking to find his double Major winning form ahead of the April 11th commencing Masters.
“I might have played one more event in the Middle East, and not taken that four-week break after Abu Dhabi,” he said.
It was put to McIlroy did that infer the Dubai Desert Classic, and his maiden pro career victory in 2009.
He said: “Yes, maybe I should have added Dubai.”
McIlroy left Abu Dhabi hopelessly missing the cut with a pair of 75s and then suffered the embarrassment of losing out in the opening round of the WGC – Accenture Match-Play to close friend Shane Lowry.
“After losing in the first round of the Match-Play, I then played a round-and-half at the Honda, so I haven’t played much golf,” McIlroy added.
“But heading to San Santonio my course management is the big thing, and not short-siding myself, and hitting it fat into the greens when you need to, giving yourself a bit more margin for errors.
“I also need to limit making bogeys from the middle of the fairway, and if I can keep those of my card, then I’ll be in great shape.”
McIlroy will be staying this week at the on-course JW Marriott Hotel, the largest Marriott hotel in the world and boasting among many amenities a water slide.
He was asked what he knew about San Antonio and McIlroy responded: “I know they have a great basketball team, and the hotel I’m staying at has a great water slide.”
But when it pointed out that the last thing McIlroy needed was to be putting his body at risk on a water slide, he responded: “Maybe I’ll just take a look at the water slide.”
McIlroy will join fellow Irish Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Shane Lowry in America’s seventh largest city.
But before leading Houston, McIlroy found himself ‘ambushed’ by the Easter Bunny in front of the Redstone clubhouse and gladly delighted in having his photo taken.
Aside from a small pay cheque, McIlroy bought himself a Texas cowboy hat and if does win later this week in San Antonio he will not only go back to World No. 1 but also be presented with a specially endorsed pair of Valero Texas Open cowboy boots.
He had played the final round alongside England’s David Lynn who had finished a distant eight shots behind in their last Major, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
And while McIlroy was introduced on the first tee as the reigning PGA Champion Lynn quickly wondered how many spectators gathered around the opening tee were aware he had finished runner-up to the Northern Irishman.
“It was good to play alongside Rory again as we haven’t done that for quite a while,” said Lynn.
“He finished nicely with a couple of birdies after putting into the water four times but still managed to shoot two under.”
However after spending some four hours alongside he echoed comments earlier in the week by McIlroy’s long-time coach, Michael Bannon and short-game expert, Dave Stockton, that there is nothing seriously wrong with McIlroy’s game.
“Golf is such a fickle game and one minute you’ve got it and then you find yourself struggling,” he said.
“I wouldn’t read much into how he’s playing because from what I saw out there today he’s hitting the ball really well so it’s pretty close.”
And Lynn, who earned a Masters invitation on the back of finishing runner-up last August to McIlroy, indicated like McIlroy he also needs a further four rounds of competition in San Antonio ahead of the year’s first Major.
“Unlike Rory, I’ve only ever playing in two Majors so another four rounds is not going to hurt me before Augusta, and if the truth be known I really have nowhere to go next week,” he said laughing.