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McIlroy 'close' to finding top form

ESPN staff
April 1, 2013 « Bolt almost sets new 150m world record | Chartbeat test »
Rory McIlroy endured another difficult week with the driver at the Shell Houston Open © Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy believes he is closing in on his finest form and is adamant that playing at the Texas Valero Open can only be good for his prospects at The Masters, despite the marked difference in the challenges posed by the two courses.

The world No. 2 opted to play in San Antonio while struggling at the Shell Houston Open, where he finished 12 shots behind winner DA Points for a share of 45th place on Sunday.

The Oaks Course is notoriously tight and windy, bearing little relation to the conditions McIlroy will face at Augusta National, but McIlroy maintains that the most important thing for him right now is to keep playing.

"I just need to play competitive golf and that's why I'm going there," McIlroy told the Telegraph. "If it was being held on a par-three course I would go and play.

"I need to commit to targets and it doesn't matter if it's a short course, long course, wide course or whatever. I know that if I can limit those sloppy mistakes I'll be in good shape for The Masters. Four more rounds will do me the world of good."

McIlroy's Shell Houston Open scorecard was littered with examples of the sloppy mistakes he is determined to put right in time for The Masters. Any thoughts of regaining the world No. 1 ranking from Tiger Woods were quickly forgotten as his struggles with his new Nike equipment, particularly the driver, continued, though he was boosted by carding three sub-par rounds at Redstone.

"I feel my short-game is sharp and I'm putting it pretty well - I can take those positives into next week and then to the Masters," McIlroy added. "If I have one objective in San Antonio it will be to improve my course management.

"That's a big thing; you know, not short-siding yourself, hitting to the fat of the greens when you need to, giving yourself a bit more margin for error. I need to limit making bogeys from the middle of the fairway.

"This was only my 13th competitive round of the year, so it's not quite there, but it's close."

World rankings: 1. Tiger Woods (USA), 2. Rory McIlroy (NIR), 3. Justin Rose (ENG), 4. Luke Donald (ENG), 5. Brandt Snedeker (USA), 6. Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), 7. Adam Scott (AUS), 8. Steve Stricker (USA), 9. Matt Kuchar (USA), 10. Phil Mickelson (USA), 11. Keegan Bradley (USA), 12. Ian Poulter (ENG), 13. Lee Westwood (ENG), 14. Bubba Watson (USA), 15. Charl Schwartzel (RSA), 16. Sergio Garcia (ESP), 17. Graeme McDowell (NIR), 18. Jason Dufner (USA), 19. Dustin Johnson (USA), 20. Webb Simpson (USA)

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