McIlroy chirpy after practice round in Texas
Rory McIlroy had heard all the concerns that the Texas Open layout would be an unsuitable place to prepare for next week's Masters, so was delighted to discover differently yesterday.
"It is a good test with Augusta in mind," said the world No 2 after he played a practice round on the AT&T Oaks Course in company with his Irish compatriot and close friend Shane Lowry.
It happened to be Lowry's 26th birthday so the mood was cheerful as the money passed hands.
Yet McIlroy was also buoyed by the nature of the examination which awaits this week.
"I came here to get four more rounds under my belt," he added. "I like the course. It's a course where you have to hit the shots and also drive it well, and iron play is going to be very important as the greens are small with a lot of run-offs.
"So, in that regard it's going to be a good test with the Masters coming."
McIlroy believes he has fixed the glitch in his swing which blighted his start to 2012 and, as if to prove so, his full-time coach Michael Bannon has not travelled with him from Houston. He and his caddie JP Fitzgerald feel all that is missing is the game time.
Meanwhile, Darren Clarke has pulled out of the event citing a tight hamstring, but he is confident of being fit for the Masters. (© Daily Telegraph, London)