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McIlroy impresses with short game

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s easy power impresses.

The 3-wood he hit 321 yards in the playoff at Wells Fargo on Sunday, a blast that ran by the drivers of Rickie Fowler and D.A. Points, is still being talked about this week.

Still, in the first round of The Players Championship, it was McIlroy’s deft touch and short game that made the largest impression on Phil Mickelson in their pairing. McIlroy, the world No. 1, got up and down at the 12th from one of the many awkward lies architect Pete Dye created at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course.

“That was exceptional,” Mickelson said. “I didn't know if that was possible. He hit a phenomenal shot to about 7 feet and made it. He has a tremendous short game. You can't play and score as well as he does without having a great short game, and he does.”

McIlroy, who shot even-par 72, had a plan in mind flopping that delicate shot at the 12th.

“I was just, sort of, imagining how Phil would play it,” McIlroy said. “Coming from a guy that has such a great short game, it's a nice compliment for sure.”

McIlroy had his round to 2 under before rinsing his tee shot at the 17th hole.

“Hopefully, I can get out there tomorrow and get those shots back straightaway,” McIlroy said.