HUMBLE, Tex. -- After weeks of saying he would not add an event to his schedule before the Masters, Rory McIlroy committed on Friday to play in next week's Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.
It's the right move for the struggling 23-year-old, two-time major champion. It can only help his confidence to get more competitive rounds in before the Masters. This decision is a clear sign that the Holywood, Northern Ireland native believes he needs another tuneup before Augusta.
McIlroy has had mixed results through two rounds at the Shell Houston Open. On Friday, he shot a 2-under 70 for a two-day total of 1-under to make the halfway cut on the number.
"There's a couple swings out there again today where I was a bit tentative, if I just let them go, it would be fine," McIlroy said on Friday. "I think it's more a mental thing than a mechanical thing at this point.
"Nice to have another couple of rounds, do some work on the range this afternoon and hopefully improve on the course that I've already done."
Now with San Antonio on his schedule, he doesn't have to put so much pressure on the weekend in Houston. The only potential downside to this is that the Masters marks his third consecutive tournament. Few players dare attempt this kind of schedule around the majors. But the reps he will gain from the competition will outweigh any of the residual effects of the busy schedule.
However, McIlroy has to be careful to use the competition wisely. In competition, you don't have time to make swing corrections and adjustments to your putting stroke. You have to play the golf course. At home, he could better focus on making some of the tweaks.
So the main thing over the weekend at Houston and in San Antonio is to work on the right things and stick with them even in the heat of battle. What feels natural when you're struggling is often the worst thing you need to be doing in your game.
All week in Houston, McIlroy has been saying he needs to figure out how to take the great practice sessions to the golf course.
The worst scenario would be for him to go into Augusta tired and devoid of confidence, broken and in despair about his game and his chances of winning his first green jacket. That's one of the risks of adding this event.
Still, the sudden shift of intentions demonstrates that McIlroy is willing to put a check on his ego for the sake of his game. A month ago, perhaps as late as the end of his second round on Friday, it seemed unimaginable that he would be playing in the Valero Texas Open.
But now he is headed to Alamo City.