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McIlroy regains major control in San Antonio – News – Irish Golf Desk

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Rory McIlroy believes he’s regained confidence in his swing and is now playing the patient golf he needs to try and win the Masters next week.

Believing he’s on the road to eliminating “the big misses” that have plagued him in the US this year, the Holywood star added a two-under 70 to his opening 69 to into the weekend alone in fifth on five-under in the Valero Texas Open, just a shot off second place and only six behind runaway leader Akshay Bhatia.

“Yeah, it was pretty good,” McIlroy said at TPC San Antonio, where Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power missed the cut on six-over.

“I think I could stand here and say I wish I was a few shots better and missed a few putts and whatever, but it was tricky conditions

“Obviously, Akshay’s playing really well, but apart from that, no one’s really lighting the world on fire.

“Yeah, just keep grinding away. I’ve only made one bogey over two days, which I’m really pleased with.”

McIlroy shot his first bogey-free round for a month in round one and after dropping just one shot yesterday, he feels he has more control over his swing than he did earlier this season and can go to Augusta with confidence.

“It’s been better, definitely better than the last few weeks,” he said of his swing and his battle to eliminate the left miss after getting some clarity from Butch Harmon. 

“Still work to do, but heading in the right direction.”

Admitting it was satisfying to make just one bogey so far, he said: “I think that was the goal going into those last two weeks and obviously into this week was just trying to get a lot of that out of the system and playing a bit smarter, hitting the shots that I know that I can hit.

“But at the same time, I’m a little more confident in my golf swing than I was a few weeks ago, so that makes it easier.”

McIlroy said in the build-up that Augusta National requires you to play boring golf and he’s done that well so far this week

“Yeah, yeah, that’s it, yeah. Ton of pars,” he said. “And not just for big major championship golf, that is what you need to do.

“Yeah, I can do it. Like LACC, the U.S. Open last year is probably the best example of me doing that. I was very patient. 

“St. Andrews a little bit, even though the scoring was low. Same sort of thing, you pick and choose where you’re aggressive and then you’re conservative a lot of the time. 

“You add it up at the end of the week, you’re always going to be pretty close.

“I think it’s an acceptance that you’re going to make a lot of pars, it’s maybe going to feel frustrating at times, but knowing that you’re not losing ground by doing it and accepting that fact, that’s a big key to it.”

As for his round, he said: “I guess I just stayed patient and tried to play pretty smart golf. 

“I mean, the wind was up a little bit at the start of the round yesterday and then it died on the back nine. It was pretty much up from the get-go today. 

“So just trying to keep the ball in play off the tee, trying to give yourself some good looks.

“Yeah, it was hard to make a ton of birdies out there today, so just stayed patient and, yeah, not get too frustrated that you weren’t getting the ball too close or weren’t making a ton of birdies. Overall, it was a solid round of golf.”

Bhatia added a 70 to his opening 63 to lead by five shots from Brendon Todd, Russell Henley and Denny McCarthy, but McIlroy is lurking.

“I’d like to see a few of those iron shots and wedges go a little bit closer,” he said. “Again, as I said last night, the miss has gone from left the last few weeks to a little bit to the right, which I’m OK with.

“It means that what I’m working on is heading in the right direction. So just tightening that up a little bit. 

“Then I missed a few putts from sort of inside 12 feet as well, try to tidy that up. If I can do those two things, I think I’ll have a good shot.

“I mean, I’ve only made one bogey in the last two days, so that’s much better than what I showed through the Florida swing and that’s really been the reason for the work over the last two weeks is to try to eradicate the big misses and try to keep the ball more in front of me instead of off to the side. 

“Over the last two days, I’ve done that pretty well and hopefully keep doing that over the weekend.”

Harrington shot a second successive 75 to miss the one-over-par cut by five shots alongside Power, who shot 77.

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