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March 7 2013

5:17 PM

McIlroy salvages sloppy day

Rory McIlroy hit just three fairways and 11 greens in regulation on Thursday. (Little/Getty Images)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

DORAL, Fla. -- Considering where some of Rory McIlroy's shots landed, the score wasn't as bad as it looked.

Or as it could have been.

In his first action since walking off the golf course midway through his second round last week, McIlroy hit just three fairways and 11 greens in Thursday's opening round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

"It was a bit of a struggle," said McIlroy, who made six bogeys at Trump Doral. "This is a work in progress, and I'm working at it and I'm staying patient."

That was easier said than done at times.

McIlroy made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 -- his fourth and fifth holes of the day -- after missing the green left on both occasions.

He bounced back with a birdie on the next, but he gave it right back on the 18th after missing the green right and failing to get up and down, leaving his chip shot from just off the putting surface 10 feet short.

It was the first of four bogeys in a five-hole stretch for McIlroy. The only bright spot was an eagle on the par-5 first in between after he reached the green in two and knocked in a 15-footer.

"I wasn't putting as much pressure on myself and that's why I didn't get as frustrated," McIlroy said.

Two late birdies didn't hurt.

On the par-4 seventh, McIlroy stuck his approach to 7 feet and made the putt. On the par par-5 eighth, he reached the green in two and two-putted from 20 feet.

"It was nice to sneak in a couple birdies on the last three holes and make it look somewhat respectable, even though everyone seems to be going pretty low out there," said McIlroy, who trails the lead by seven shots. "I've got another three rounds to try and work on it a bit more and shoot a few good scores and see what happens."

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