HUMBLE, Texas —
That change worked out well for McIlroy, who wants to be in Augusta the weekend before the Masters.
“I thought it fit in really nicely,” McIlroy said.
Far more important is what follows over the next few days. 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. He 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 not only broke par for the first time all year, he closed with a 65 to crack the top 10. And then he took off for two more weeks, spending part of that time with tennis girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in Key Biscayne, Fla., and hitting balls at a public course in Miami.
McIlroy was spotted hitting balls with a carry bag (decked out in Manchester United logos) next to other paying customers at Miami Municipal Golf Course. It was rare to see a player with McIlroy’s credentials — still No. 1 in the world with two major championships — in such a public setting.
He didn’t understand all the fuss. McIlroy still sees himself as normal.
And in his normal world, he is bound to hit the kind of rough patches he is going through now. And he looked like a regular guy Wednesday morning, sitting in a booth inside the caddie trailer having breakfast with his coach and his caddie, watching sports on TV, perfectly content with his world.
“We go through highs and lows. It’s just sport and that’s golf,” McIlroy said Tuesday during his press conference. “You’re going to have patches where you play great and have patches where you struggle a little bit. I guess you’ve just got to take the rough ... be patient and know that you’re working on right things.”
It should be a good week to figure out where he is.