The early part of the golf season has not been kind to Rory McIlroy.
He has started slowly on the PGA Tour in 2013. He was a first-round loser in the Accenture Match Play Championship in February.
When he entered the Honda Classic earlier this month, he shot a 70 in the first round and then blew up in the front nine of the second round and walked off the course.
After the round, he mumbled something about wisdom tooth problems, but it didn't sit right with the golf world (source: Yahoo.com).
McIlroy, 23, should have played through the round and stayed on the course. He admitted as much a few days later. He knew he let his emotions get the best of him and didn't feel good about it.
Admitting his mistake was big for McIlroy, but rediscovering his game is much more important.
Nobody really thinks McIlroy is going through anything more than the normal highs and lows that all golfers face. Even the greats have poor rounds and poor tournaments. Jack Nicklaus didn't always make the top 10, and Sam Snead would hit the ball out of bounds once in a while even though he had the smoothest swing ever.
Arnold Palmer disappointed his army from time to time and went through many struggles.
The same holds for McIlroy.
But the great players find a way to dig out from their slumps and get back on track. The better the player, the shorter the slump.
McIlroy appeared to take a major step forward in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral when he shot a 65 in the final round.
McIlroy was not in contention so much of the pressure was off, but he still played a sensational closing round. It was the second-best round of the day and McIlroy appeared to regain his confidence afterward.
McIlroy shot a 10-under-par 278 in the Cadillac Championship, playing fairly consistently through the first three rounds.
However, he looked like the No. 1 player in the world in the final round.
"A few days like I've played, it does my confidence a world of good," McIlroy told Brian Wacker of PGATour.com. "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 assessment is one of the areas McIlroy will probably solidify as he gets older. As a relatively young golfer, he understands that he is more talented and more accomplished than nearly every golfer on the tour.
However, he tends to get emotional after a poor round or a great round. He will accomplish more when the highs and lows aren't quite so extreme.
But the fundamentals of the game returned in full during his final round at Doral. The long, strong drives, the clean iron play and the solid putting were all on display.
McIlroy feels his game once again, and with the Masters less than a month away, there is a very good chance that McIlroy will be able to make a run at his first green jacket.
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