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March 8 2013

7:15 PM

McIlroy shows signs of progress

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

DORAL, Fla. -- Rory McIlroy was walking from the 15th green to the 16th green Friday when he spotted his mom Rosie, turned to her, and said, "Oh my God, I'm in red numbers."

As crazy as it might sound coming fom the No. 1 player in the world, there was truth behind the joke.

McIlroy broke par for the first time in 2013, carding a 3-under 69 Friday at TPC Blue Monster.

It was also a step in the right direction for McIlroy, who missed the cut in his first start of the year and was eliminated in the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Then came The Honda Classic, where he was 7 over through eight holes in his second round when he walked off the course and withdrew, citing a toothache.

McIlroy later apologized for quitting and admitted he made the wrong decision.

Thursday, his play wasn't much better with an opening-round 73 in which he hit just three fairways. Afterward, he went to the range with swing coach Michael Bannon.

Friday, McIlroy appeared to have found at least some rhythm.

His pre-shot waggle was gone and the birdies were back -- six in all -- with just three bogeys.

"It's nice to shoot something in the 60s," McIlroy said. "Definitely something to build on over the next couple of days.

"I saw a lot of positives. I saw a lot of good signs out there."

Maybe none better than on the par-5 eighth hole, where he hit a 6-iron from 217 yards to just outside 5 feet. He missed the putt but still made birdie.

On the par-5 10th, his 3-wood from 257 yards landed just short of the green and he got up-and-down for another birdie.

"It's about the ball‑striking and the ball‑striking is getting there," McIlroy said. "Days like today were very pleasing because it shows that I'm going in the right direction."

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