RORY McILROY has revealed that he and Tiger Woods played out their own world match play 'final' after the pair were knocked out in the first round of the Accenture World Match play in Arizona last week.
The world no 1 has been in intensive practice since his defeat to Shane Lowry. This included playing 36 holes with Woods at his home course in Florida on Sunday.
"We decided to play our own final," quipped McIlroy. "He beat me the first 18 and I beat him in the second, so we're even. We teed off at about eight and I was home by 1.30. We whizzed around. Tiger putts with the pin in – it's speed golf. It was really enjoyable."
Speaking at the PGA National in Florida, where he defends the Honda Classic this week, McIlroy said he was aware all eyes would be focused on his form after his switch to Nike clubs in a €200m deal.
A bigger problem is that he has played only three competitive rounds in the past three months after missing the cut in Abu Dhabi in January, and in Arizona he admitted to "feeling rusty."
He has only three events left before the Masters in April and the fears are he will arrive in Georgia undercooked.
"I'm confident it will all be fine by Augusta," said McIlroy, who also plays next week in Miami and then two weeks later in Houston.
Meanwhile, McIlroy urged the PGA Tour to avoid a damaging split in golf and accept whatever rules the game's governing bodies introduce on belly putters.
The world no 1's backing of the United States Golf Association and R&A could prove an important moment in the debate which is threatening to drive a wedge between the professional and amateur games.
The PGA Tour has informed the rule-makers it opposes the proposals to ban "anchoring".
If the USGA and R&A press on despite the objections, the PGA Tour would have to decide whether to take the unprecedented step of ignoring the new rule. It was revealed that the European Tour is ready to side with the governing bodies, a move McIlroy, like Colin Montgomerie, would welcome.
"I read that Monty said this divide isn't good for golf and I don't think it is," McIlroy said. "I think we all need to be on one side or the other.
"We've trusted this game of golf and put it in the hands of the R&A and the USGA for I don't know how many years and we've always abided by the rules that they have set. I don't think this should be any different." (© Daily Telegraph, London)