Sunday, March 26, 2017

Rory busy in downtime, mind off Masters

MEXICO CITY – Although he’s been slowed competitively the last few weeks, Rory McIlroy has been keeping himself busy since going on the disabled list in mid-January with a hairline rib fracture.

He’s played golf with President Donald Trump, ate separate lunches with Tiger Woods and USGA executive director Mike Davis and tuned up for this week’s start at the WGC-Mexico Championship following a friendly match in south Florida against Dustin Johnson.

“I got to play with the president of the United States and the best golfer in the world,” McIlroy smiled on Tuesday.

Although the former caused a bit of a stir on social media, the latter proved McIlroy was ready to return to competition for the first time since finishing second at the BMW SA Open on Jan. 15.

McIlroy said he shot 65 in his round against Johnson, who took over the top spot in the World Golf Ranking with his victory two weeks ago at the Genesis Open. It was an encouraging sign for a guy who has played just four “full” rounds before arriving for this week’s event, including Monday’s start at the Seminole Member-Pro.

All total, McIlroy said he missed four events, two in the Middle East on the European Tour and two in the U.S., but in an odd twist he said it’s helped take his mind off the Masters.

“Honestly I haven’t thought much about Augusta,” McIlroy said. “My biggest concern has just been getting healthy and being able to get back here. That’s what I was thinking about.”

WGC-Mexico Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts at Augusta National and said he’ll have a better handle on where his game is after this week’s event before turning his focus on to the year’s first major.

“How’s my body feel, how’s my game feel and then from there I can start to think about the Masters and think about what I really need to do to get ready for Augusta,” he said.

Because of his injury McIlroy said he was able to focus on his short game, which is always a crucial part of any player’s game plan at Augusta National.

“There’s no excuse for my short game not to be sharp this week,” he joked.

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