World No. 1 Rory McIlroy scrambled his way to an even-par 70 for his first round at PGA National in the Honda Classic Thursday.
It was evident to everyone that McIlroy was playing better than his previous two starts in 2013, but his iron play was still not quite up to his high standards. He missed several greens and was forced to make difficult up and downs to save pars.
He was one-under par through 17 holes on Thursday. A solid drive and layup left him only 107 yards from the green on the par-five, No. 18. He once again failed to hit the green with a wedge in his hand, as he made a bogey six and turned his 69 into an even-par 70.
McIlroy started early off No. 10 on Friday for his second round. He made double-bogey at No. 11, bogey at No. 13 and an ugly triple-bogey seven at the par-three, No. 16, the second hole in the “Bear Trap.” He added another bogey at No. 17 for a seven-over par start through just eight holes.
He found the fairway with his drive on No. 18 but hit his second shot into the water on the par-five. USA Today reported that he walked directly to his car and exited PGA National.
This was only the fourth competitive round for McIlroy this year. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi after shooting 75-75 while paired with Tiger Woods.
Shane Lowry, the No. 64 seed, defeated McIlroy, the No. 1 seed, in the first match at the WGC-Accenture last week in Tucson. Lowry only got into the elite field event because of the withdrawals of Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker.
McIlroy cited exhaustion and took an extended rest from golf in December after winning the money titles on the PGA and European Tours in 2012. He won his second major last year at the PGA Championship and won the PGA Tour’s Vardon Trophy for the lowest accumulated average score throughout the year.
He ascended to the No. 1 ranking on the Official World Golf Ranking after his win last year at this same event, the Honda Classic.
McIlroy has a residence in the Palm Beach area, and this was a "home game" for him.
He is clearly frustrated with the state of his game right now. Errant shots, new clubs and lack of confidence do not bode well for successful golf.
With The Masters just six weeks away, the world No. 1 has a lot of work yet to be done.