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McIlroy Pleased How San Antonio Trip Turned Out
A little over a week ago, Rory McIlroy wasn't intending to play in the Valero Texas Open, planning instead to practice and get his game in shape for the upcoming Masters. But the 23-year-old changed his mind after the final round of the Houston Open on March 31, and decided to come to San Antonio and get in more competition before the season's first major.
And McIlroy's glad he did. Though he didn't win at TPC San Antonio - Scotland's Martin Laird did, firing a brilliant 9-under 63 on Sunday, the young Ulsterman acquitted himself well, closing with a 6-under 66 to finish two strokes behind Laird's 14-under 274 total and taking second place.
McIlroy's runner-up position was his highest finish since winning last year's BMW Championship. He owed his performance not so much to swing improvements, but "just eliminating the stupid mistakes" that had plagued him earlier this season.
He certainly seems to be in a better place prior to the Masters than he would have been if he'd not played in San Antonio. Though Tiger Woods, who's won three times this year and supplanted McIlroy as the top-ranked player in the world, is the prohibitive 3-1 favorite to win for the fifth time at Augusta National, McIlroy and three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson are coming in at 10-1 odds to don the newest green jacket.
After signing his scorecard Sunday evening, McIlroy met with reporters and talked about his decision to enter the Valero Texas Open and how getting another 72 holes in before the Masters proved so beneficial. Here's what he had to say to reporters during his post-round Q&A.
Q. You're not going to leave San Antonio with the trophy, but your performance speaks volumes about the state of your game. What do you feel best about? What do you think is the most important thing you've accomplished here?
RORY MCILROY: I think over the last three rounds especially just eliminating the stupid mistakes that I was making on the course, mental errors. You know, to finish off this tournament with a round like today is obviously great going into Augusta. So, even though, as you said, I didn't get the trophy, Martin just played too good today. I mean, 63 out there in these conditions is phenomenal. I'm really pleased with my game, and I think this is a great week for me.
Q. I know it's disappointing that you didn't win, but I thought you really played well. This was your best round maybe of the year. I didn't see you throw away a single shot out there.
RORY MCILROY: No, it was great. Yeah, I feel like my game's in really good shape going into next week. A round like that today gives me a nice little bit of confidence. I thought if I got to 12 under today that might have been good enough, but Martin just played too good and held so many putts. It was hard to keep up.
Q. I saw you watching the leaderboard all day, and you were one group behind Martin, so you saw what was transpiring. Like I said, you gave it all.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I did. I got to within one and he birdied 16, then I birdied on top of him, which was nice, and then he birdied 17. He just finished to finish the way he did, he was always going to be tough. I'm really happy with the way I played, and happy going into next week.
Q. I got to watch you play these last eight rounds of golf. I'm going to pronounce you Augusta ready and wish you good luck at The Masters my friend.
RORY MCILROY: Thank you very much.
Q. Is can you just talk about your overall experience here in San Antonio?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, it's been great. It's been a really good week. I really enjoyed myself. I think everyone's been so welcoming and really made us feel comfortable. I really enjoyed the week. It was great.
Q. Talk about your round today. You made a charge, and it looked like you might catch up to him.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, I was trying my best. I made a birdie on 14, and birdied 16 after him, but he was always just a little step ahead of me. And it was tough to catch him. He deserves it. To shoot 63 out there in those conditions is a really good score.
Q. Even though you didn't get the victory, this has to be as close to mission accomplished as you can possibly get.
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, definitely. As you said, I didn't quite get the win, but everything that I wanted to accomplish this week, I accomplished. I feel really good going into next week.
Q. Do you have the disappointment of not winning or the happiness that you feel like you really found something here?
RORY MCILROY: A little bit of both. I don't think I have any complaints out there today. I shot 66 and I just got beaten by the better guy on the day. I have no complaints or disappointment about that. As I said, I'm very happy that I'm going into next week with my game in good shape, and with my confidence level pretty high.
Q. A month ago, did you think you'd feel this good coming into Augusta?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, it doesn't take long. Just to turn around and you're off, at least that is the case for me. I guess I was more hopeful than expecting going into the last couple of tournaments. But I think I know now where my game is at, and I'm happy with it. I'm really looking forward to next week.
Q. Anything that needs to be fine tuned, do you think, before you tee it up again Tuesday?
RORY MCILROY: Not really. I think it's just about getting my short game as sharp as possible around there. I think everything else is pretty good. Iron play is good, driving the ball, I didn't quite drive the ball that well today, but my 3 wood was working pretty good. All in all, it's really in a good place, and I'm looking forward to next week.
Q. Usually when you have such a near miss, a player would be disappointed. But what do you feel now that you know you've gotten yourself back in contention and are playing well heading into Augusta?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, that was the plan this week was to get myself, I guess, tournament ready or tournament sharp. I was able to do that. It was a bonus that I got into contention and had a chance to win. I can't really be too disappointed. Martin played phenomenal golf today, shot 63 in those conditions. I felt getting to 12 under like I did I was going to have a great chance, but ended up a couple back of him. So I'm happy heading to Augusta.
Q. Overall, with all of that now and the confidence that you get coming out of this, do you feel like another track at The Masters is right there for you?
RORY MCILROY: Yeah, for sure. I played well at Augusta before. I've shot some good rounds around there. I'm going to go and prepare as well as I can the next three days and make sure I'm ready to tee it up on Thursday.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.