DORAL, Fla. – “You’re getting there,” the voice announced amid the controlled chaos behind the Blue Monster’s 18th hole. And while Rory McIlroy couldn’t argue with the assessment, the source caught him off guard.
But on week of firsts for the world No. 1, words of encouragement from Donald Trump probably ranked well down the list. Among McIlroy’s season firsts at the WGC-Cadillac Championship were three consecutive rounds under par (he’d had none this season before this week), not to mention his first weekend of competition.
McIlroy signed for a closing 65 for a 10-under 278 total that left him tied for ninth when he completed his round. Maybe more impressive was his 10 under par run through his last 27 holes.
“A day like today felt a long way away to be honest,” said McIlroy, who withdrew after eight holes last week at the Honda Classic and struggled in Round 1 at Doral to a 73. “The 7-iron I hit into the first is one of the best shots I’ve hit.”
That 7-iron resulted in an eagle and he completed his card with a rare bogey-free round on a windy day in South Florida.
McIlroy, who will not play again until the Shell Houston Open in three weeks, said he had an epiphany moment with his swing on the practice range Thursday after his opening round and he finished the week tied for seventh in greens in regulation.
It was a dramatic turnaround for a player who began his week with a very public apology for withdrawing from the Honda Classic and still searching for a swing.
“I probably wear my heart on my sleeve a bit with my golf. If I have a bad round, it's sort of like the end of the world, but if I play a good one, I'm happy again,” he said.
“You know, that's just the way it goes. I was pretty down about my game coming into this week, but a few days like I've played, you know, it does my confidence a world of good.”