McIlroy sees 'positive signs' heading into Masters


ORLANDO, Fla. – That Rory McIlroy didn’t play his way into serious contention in three Florida starts might be cause for concern.

The world No. 1 prefers to view his Masters warmups another way.

“I sort of like that because if I had played really well the last few weeks, I’d be wondering, How do I keep this going?” he said Sunday. “It’s nice to be able to try and build yourself up. I don’t feel like I’m right there. I feel like I’m just gradually building myself up, so it’s actually not a bad position to be in.”

McIlroy wrapped up his final start before Augusta with a 2-under 70 at Bay Hill in his Arnold Palmer Invitational debut.

He missed the cut at Honda. He finished eight shots back at Doral. And he was eight behind at Arnie’s Place.

OK, so not the kind of performances we were expecting from McIlroy, who opened his 2015 season in the Middle East, with a win and a runner-up.

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Still, he said, “I saw enough positive signs to be optimistic going into the next couple of weeks.”

Based on recent form alone, not even McIlroy would install himself as the favorite for Augusta. There are hotter players, such as Henrik Stenson, who hasn’t finished outside the top 5 in his last three starts.

“I’m not a bookkeeper,” McIlroy joked.

He won’t make another scouting trip to Augusta. Instead, he’ll spend the next two weeks in South Florida working on his game.

Save for a five-birdie run during a Friday 66, McIlroy didn’t muster much in the way of theatrics at Bay Hill. In 10 Florida rounds, he shot just one sub-70 score.

He admitted to being mentally “soft” during a couple of moments here. Indecisiveness before a couple of swings. Of most concern, though, was his wedge game, which will be crucial to his success in three weeks’ time.

“There is quite a few wedges for me there, and I’m going to concentrate on from 120 yards and in the next couple of weeks and try to get that as sharp as I possibly can,” he said.