‘As good as it’s felt all year’ – Rory McIlroy confident in his game after cruising into matchplay last 16

Rory McIlroy was in strong form in Texas.

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy cruised to the last 16 of the WGC-Dell Technologies Championship with another impressive driving performance and hinted he’s ready to peak at the Masters,

The world number three beat Keegan Bradley 4&2 to set up a last 16 clash with Australian Lucas Herbert on Saturday and remain on course to meet world No 1 Scottie Scheffler in Sunday’s final.

McIlroy reckons he’s playing as well as he’s played all year and that’s good news heading to Augusta.

"It's getting there,” he said of his game. "It's very solid. I didn't make a bogey the last couple of days. I think I only made one in the last three.

"It's good. It's probably as good as it's felt all year, which is nice going into obviously the next couple of weeks."

His putting coach Brad Faxon described Thursday’s 375-yard drive to three feet on the 18th to close out Denny McCarthy as "one of the greatest tee shots in the history of this game”.

But McIlroy was keen to play down the hype and explain that his putting still needs some work.

"I think that's a little bit of hyperbole there,” he said of Faxon’s praise of a drive that went viral around the world. "Look, honestly for me the two shots into 16 yesterday were better than the drive on 18.

"The drive on 18 was great and the length and the accuracy and whatever, it was a good shot, but there was a few more shots out there yesterday that pleased me more than that tee shot.

"That tee shot's got all the headlines and the attention, but there's other parts of the game that I'm a lot more pleased with and happy with that's a little more translatable as the year goes on.”

As for his putting, he said: "Yeah, short game, everything is sort of on point. I missed a couple of short ones out there later on in the day, but I was really pleased with how I putted the start of the match. I held some nice putts.

"That's the only thing, I would say, is just sort of tidying up there and trying to feel a little more solid with the putting. The rest of the game feels in really good shape.”

He now faces 2021 Irish Open champion Herbert, who struggled in The Players at Sawgrass and made two quintuple bogeys after five visits to water in the second round to add an 85 to his opening 82 and finish on 23 over par.

"Yeah, both of us di,” McIlroy said. "Look, TPC is one of those golf courses, if you're just a little off, it feels like it magnifies the misses that you have there. Obviously we both missed the cut. Lucas shot a couple of high numbers.

"As you see this week, reading into that too much, especially around that golf course, it just isn't -- I don't think it's -- the performances around TPC, except for, of course, Scottie, who's playing the best golf in the world right now -- you can take that golf course with a pinch of salt because it's such a different golf course than so many others that we play.”