AUGUSTA, Ga. — Rory McIlroy is offering no excuses. The equipment hes playing with is fine. His swing is fine. Even his tooth is fine.
And thats enough for him to feel very good about his chances this week at the Masters.
Anything less than a win will be a disappointment, McIlroy said Tuesday. It would be. Every time you come to Augusta, youre wanting to win that green jacket. And every time you dont, its another chance missed.
As the worlds second-ranked player, McIlroy is in the conversation as one of the favorites for the Masters, which will begin Thursday. Its been an odd year for McIlroy, who took an unplanned detour to the Texas Open last week in an attempt to rediscover a game that seemed to be abandoning him.
It was a good move as he shot a final-round 66 to finish second behind Martin Laird.
I got what I wanted out of it in terms of playing more competitive golf, getting the scorecard in my hand, shooting scores, said McIlroy. I think a bonus was getting into contention. And how I played when I got into contention was pleasing.
Being that high on the leader board was a welcome change for McIlroy. After he rose to the top spot in the world rankings in 2012 a year that included winning his second major, the PGA Championship his 2013 season started poorly.
Playing with unfamiliar equipment from his new sponsor Nike, McIlroy stumbled early, missing the cut at a tournament in Abu Dhabi, losing in the first round of the World Golf Match Play Championships, then withdrawing from the Honda Classic after complaining of a toothache.
That was followed by a tie for eighth at Doral and then a 45th at the Houston Open.
McIlroy wasnt happy with his game. Specifically, he wasnt happy with his swing. So he canceled a humanitarian trip to Haiti last week and instead headed to San Antonio.
Ive gone through these sort of patches before where I havent played so well and the game feels quite far away, said McIlroy, who committed Tuesday to play in Mays Wells Fargo Championship at Charlottes Quail Hollow Club. Then something clicks and all of a sudden its back again.
When I dont play my best, its when I get into bad habits in my golf swing. Whenever my golf swing is where I want it to be, thats when Ive produced results.
So McIlroy isnt blaming the equipment.
Im very comfortable with it, he said.
He isnt blaming his tooth, which he will have extracted in June.
Its better, he said.
The Masters might not be a great place to bounce back for McIlroy, though. He was the third-round leader in 2011 before coming undone on Sunday with an 80. Last year, his weekend rounds of 77-76 dropped him to a 40th-place finish.
McIlroy said he has forgotten about all that.
The demons are gone, he said. They were gone as soon as I got off the 18th green. I have no ill memories of this place. I absolutely adore the golf course.
Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14