Rory McIlroy searches for consistency

April, 1, 2013

HUMBLE, Texas -- After shooting a 2-under 70 on Sunday in the final round of the Shell Houston Open, Rory McIlroy admitted that he might not have put enough events on his schedule at the start of the year.

"I might have played one more in the Middle East, not taken that four-week break after Abu Dhabi," he said.

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Rory McIlroy
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesRory McIlroy carded 10 bogeys or worse during his 72 holes at the Shell Houston Open. He'll play the Valero Texas Open this week in San Antonio.

It didn't help matters that McIlroy lost in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February or played less than two rounds at Honda.

The 23-year-old Northern Irishman will try to make amends for this light schedule by playing the Valero Texas Open, which begins Thursday.

"I'm there to play competitive golf," he said about playing at the TPC San Antonio. "If it was a par-3 course, I would go and play it just because that's what I need.

"I need competitive golf and I need committing to targets, and it doesn't matter if it's a short course or long course or wide course or whatever. As long as I have [competition] and I have a scorecard in my hand, that's what I need."

When Ben Curtis won the Texas Open last year for his first win since 2006, he shot 73-72 over the weekend on the very difficult Greg Norman-designed AT&T Oaks Course.

In 2012, the 7,435-yard, par-72 layout was ranked the fourth-most difficult course on the PGA Tour, with a 73.989 stroke average.

In a Golf World magazine survey of more than 80 PGA Tour players, only two courses out of 52 tour venues were rated lower than this week's venue.

But McIlroy isn't in the Alamo City for its popularity with the players. He has some very clear objectives in mind to prepare for Augusta.

"I just got to hit the bad shots in the right places and not short-side myself and hit them in hazards and give myself a little more margin for error," he said.

"I hit four shots in the hazards today and ended up shooting 2-under. You limit those mistakes a little bit and all of a sudden it's a 67, 66. I can take a lot out of this week. The scores haven't reflected how I've played."

Yet in this game, you are what you shoot. McIlroy doesn't have to win in San Antonio, but it's imperative that he plays 72 holes and finds some measure of consistency.

McIlroy shrugs off the notion that he might get tired during the Masters by playing three weeks in a row.

"I feel fine," he said. "I don't think there's any set way to do it. It just depends on how you feel on those given weeks."

Last year, McIlroy won the PGA Championship a week after finishing in a tie for fifth at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. But earlier in '12, he had a disappointing tie for 40th at the Masters after taking nearly a month off.

It will be very interesting to see what game he shows up with at Augusta. At the start of the week in Houston, he held his head up high after losing No. 1 in the world to Tiger Woods. The burden and pressure of being No. 1 had suddenly been lifted from his shoulders.

Now McIlroy has the Texas Open to help sharpen his resolve to not only retake No. 1 from Tiger, but to show that, like the 14-time major champion, he can overcome great adversity to win golf's biggest events.