WORLD No.1 Rory McIlroy said his confidence was returning from its lowest point ever after shooting a one-under 71 in the third round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Florida.
McIlroy made six birdies as he recovered from a poor start with a bogey on the third and a double-bogey on the next hole, where he found water.
Having failed to have a below par round this year until Friday’s second day of the event, another scorecard in the red was clearly pleasing to the Northern Irishman as he tries to get his swing back in order and his confidence with it.
“It was probably the lowest it’s ever been. But I guess putting in the hard work and knowing what I’m doing is the right thing, and that I’m going in the right direction, gives me confidence going into the next few weeks,” he said after finishing his round on the Blue Monster course at Doral.
“Even the bad shots are coming out of the middle of the clubface. I’m excited about my game, coming into this week, I was a bit down about it. But, after these few days and seeing some shots that I’ve hit on the course, I’m a lot happier going forward.”
While McIlroy has never been even close to being in contention this week, he has managed to put aside the controversy that surrounded his mid-round walk-off at the Honda Classic the week before last.
McIlroy had played his first eight holes at the PGA National at seven-over and, after quitting his second round, spent last weekend trying to get his swing fixed.
One week on, the 23-year-old certainly looks more relaxed and happier. He said: “This time last week, I was standing on the range at The Bear’s Club trying to find a swing that worked. To practise it and put it into play this week and see some good results. I’m definitely in a better place.”
While McIlroy has looked more controlled off the tee, it has been his short game that has cost him some strokes this week and he said he intends to turn to that side of his game before his next tournament in Houston on 28 March.
“I just sort of neglected the wedge play and chipping, just because I’ve been working so hard on my swing,” he said.
The top Scot in the field at Doral was Scott Jamieson, who followed up his first two rounds of 70 and 69 with a level-par 72 to sit in a tie for 24th place on five under par.
At the top of the leaderboard Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell continued their duel, with the American shooting a five-under 67 to lead on 18 under with McIlroy’s fellow Ulsterman McDowell four shots back after a 69.