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February 28 2013

5:50 PM

McIlroy still searching, shoots even par

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In a word, Rory McIlroy was deflated after an opening-round 70 Thursday at The Honda Classic.

McIlroy, the defending champion who first moved to No. 1 in the world with his victory here a year ago, said he's still not comfortable with his new equipment and in turn his swing.

"It's hard to commit to the shot that you need to play every time," said McIlroy after a round that included just as many bogeys -- two -- as birdies. "If you know that you should play a fade and you're not comfortable with it, it's hard to do."

McIlroy hit just seven fairways at PGA National. He also needed 30 putts and made just one from outside 6 feet all day.

The 23-year-old Northern Irishman's struggles came early with five pars and a bogey through his first six holes, during which he only hit half his fairways and greens in regulation.

On the par-4 sixth, McIlroy drove it into the right rough then missed the green short and left before failing to save par from just over 8 feet.

He bounced back with a birdie three holes later, sticking his approach shot to 4 feet to set up an easy putt. But he failed to get the ball close to the hole on his approach shots the rest of the day.

McIlroy rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on the par-4 14th, but he gave it right back with a bogey from the middle of the fairway on the par-5 18th, where his approach sailed over the green and he failed to get up-and-down to save par.

"Definitely," McIlroy said when asked if he's trying to fix his swing mid-round. "I felt like I hit the ball OK, not as good as I can, but it's getting there."

Just not soon enough, though McIlroy is trying to remain patient.

"This golf course, it's the sort of place that you don't really go that far under par anyways," McIlroy said. "You've just got to stay patient. But it would have been nice to finish off the round a bit better."

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