Rory McIlroy closes with 65

DORAL, Fla. -- After two tumultuous weeks, Rory McIlroy could at least leave Miami feeling better about himself and his game.

At a tournament with no 36-hole cut, McIlroy progressively got better each day and put some frustrations and a mid-round withdrawal at the Honda Classic the week before behind him.

A 65 at Trump Doral on Sunday doesn't mean everything is right, but the no-bogey effort has the No. 1-ranked player in the world headed in the right direction. He finished tied for eighth at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, nine shots back of winner Tiger Woods, for his best finish this year.

"A day like today felt like a long way away, if I'm honest," McIlroy said when asked how far he's come since the start of the week, when he apologized for quitting at the Honda on March 1. "Just goes to show, if you get something and it works OK for you, it's not as far away as you think. That's been one of my problems: I always think when I'm playing bad that it's further away than it is.

"And I guess that's just where I have to stay patient, let whatever happens, happen, and know that if I put in the hard work, that the results will bear fruit. Whether that's sooner or later, it doesn't really matter.

"I think most of you guys know, 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. 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, it does my confidence a world of good."

McIlroy came into the year with so much fanfare. He was the clear No. 1, had a new endorsement deal with Nike and later Bose, and looked to build on player of the year honors earned on both the PGA and European tours.

But he missed the cut at the season-opening event in Abu Dhabi, then lost in the first round at the WGC-Accenture Match Play. When he walked off the course in frustration at the Honda after his ninth hole of the second round, McIlroy had just 4½ rounds to his credit in 2013.

A four-round tournament with no cut was a big help. And McIlroy had three straight rounds under par after failing to break par this season until Friday.

"I'm looking forward to just getting back and working on my game a bit more I guess," said McIlroy, who won't play again until the Shell Houston Open beginning March 28. "I'm not secluding myself, but sort of get away from this whole thing a bit and work on my game a bit more in peace and quiet, and get out to Houston and hopefully my game is in even better shape going into there."