McIlroy found his swing -- and his confidence -- at TPC Blue Monster. (Little/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
DORAL, Fla. -- A week ago, Rory McIlroy couldn't have imaged a round like had on Sunday.
"I was pretty down about my game coming into this week,," McIlroy said. "A day like today felt like a long way away if I'm honest."
McIlroy shot a 7-under 65 at TPC Blue Monster at Doral, where he vaulted up the leaderboard to end his week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship at 10 under.
Only a week ago, McIlroy had walked off the golf course in the middle of his second round at The Honda Classic, where he admitted to not being in a good place mentally and cited a toothache as his reason for withdrawing.
Questions abounded over his golf swing, his decision to change equipment in the offseason as part of a lucrative deal with Nike and even the status of his relationship with his girlfriend.
McIlroy answered the questions then let his clubs do the rest.
After breaking par for the first time this year earlier in the week, McIlroy torched TPC Blue Monster, opening with an eagle on the par-5 first before adding five more birdies the rest of the day.
"A few days like I've played, it does my confidence a world of good," McIlroy said. "I probably wear my heart on my sleeve a bit with my golf. If I have a bad round, it's sort of like the end of the world, but if I play a good one, I'm happy again."
With the Masters five weeks away, McIlroy has reason to smile again.
He'll play in Ernie Els' tournament on Monday to benefit the Els for Autism Foundation before spending next weekend with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, who will be in Miami. Then he'll play the Shell Houston Open before heading to Augusta the week before the tournament.
"I always think when I'm playing bad that it's further away than it is," McIlroy said of his play. "That's just where I have to stay patient and let whatever happens, happen, and know that if I put in the hard work, that the results will bear fruit; whether that's sooner or later, it doesn't really matter."
DORAL, Fla. -- The birdies keep coming at TPC Blue Monster.
Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Graeme McDowell are all tied for second.
Adam Scott is 7 under through 12 holes and another stroke back. Rory McIlroy is also 7 under and has climbed into the top 10.
Tiger Woods still leads his closest competitors by five, though, after birdies on Nos. 2 and 4 to get to 20 under.
Woods has made just two bogeys on the front nine all week, compared to four on the back side.
The wind has also started to pick up, but so far, so good for Woods.
DORAL, Fla. -- The final pairing of Tiger Woods and Graeme NcDowell just teed off and though Woods still leads by four, there have been plenty of good numbers going up on the board.
Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker each birdied the first hole to pull even with McDowell at 14 under. Keegan Bradley is another shot back after an eagle on the par-5 first.
Further down the board is more proof conditions are good for scoring.
Adam Scott is 4 under through his first seven holes and Rory McIlroy 5 under through 11.
Matteo Mannassero has the day's best round so far, a 66.
DDORAL, Fla. -- Tiger Woods and Graeme McDowell will tee off in just over an hour from now in the day's final group. Here's a look at their previous head-to-head battles:
Year Round Tournament McDowell (score/finish) Woods (score/finish)
2013 3 WGC-Cadillac Championship 69 (TBD) 67 (TBD)
2012 4 Arnold Palmer Invitational 74 (2nd) 70 (1st)
2011 1 WGC-Cadillac Championship 70 (T42) 70 (T10)
2011 2 WGC-Cadillac Championship 73 (T42) 74 (T10)
2011 1 The Masters 74 (MC) 71 (T4)
2011 2 The Masters 73 (MC) 66 (T4)
2009 3 The Masters 73 (T17) 70 (T6)
2010 1 WGC-HSBC Champions* 74 (T34) 68 (T6)
2010 2 WGC-HSBC Champions* 71 (T34) 72 (T6)
2010 3 Chevron World Challenge* 68 (1st) 68 (2nd)
2010 4 Chevron World Challenge* 69 (1st) 73 (2nd)
*Unofficial events on the PGA TOUR at the time
DORAL, Fla. -- Tiger Woods had a career-best 24 birdies through 54 holes this week. His previous best was 22 (2007 TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, 2005 Ford Championship at Doral).
Woods has also converted 50 of 54 third-round leads/co-leads to victory on the PGA TOUR, including 19 of his last 20 (the 2009 PGA Championship was the one that got away). He has also converted his last three third-round leads: 2009 BMW Championship, 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational and this year's Farmers Insurance Open
Should Woods win this week, it would become the fourth event on the PGA TOUR in which he’s won seven times. The others are the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Arnold Palmer Invitational and Farmers Insurance Open.
Here’s a look at Woods’ 54-hole leads at the Cadillac Championship:
2002 led six players by 5 final-round 66, won by 1 over Goosen
2003 led Vijay Singh by 2 final-round 72, won by 2 over Appleby, Herron, Singh
2006 led Adam Scott by 6 final-round 67, won by 8 over Scott, Poulter
2007 led Brett Wetterich by 4 final-round 73, won by 2 over Wetterich
2013 leads Graeme McDowell by 4 TBD