Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the fifteenth hole during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa — Champions Course on Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens.  Picture: SAM GREENWOOD/GETTY IMAGES/AFP
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the fifteenth hole during the first round of the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa — Champions Course on Thursday in Palm Beach Gardens. Picture: SAM GREENWOOD/GETTY IMAGES/AFP

MIAMI — Rory McIlroy will try to rebound from a disappointing finish in Los Angeles when he tackles the Honda Classic this week at PGA National — a course on which he admits he has had his ups and downs.

McIlroy beat Tiger Woods to win the title in 2012 — rising to No 1 in the world for the first time. Defending his title the following year, he withdrew while trailing with a painful wisdom tooth. In 2014, he was again in the thick of things, losing in a playoff, but he missed the cut last year.

"I think it’s the nature of me," McIlroy said with a smile this week, when asked to account for his varied results on PGA National’s Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

"It’s one of these golf courses that if you’re slightly off, it can really magnify your misses a little bit, and it can make you feel as if you’re playing worse than you actually are," McIlroy said.

"If you’re in control of your golf game, it’s one of these courses that you can play well at, and you can give yourself plenty of opportunities, and it’s not like you need to go crazy low here to be in contention."

McIlroy teed off on Thursday (in the early hours South African time), alongside British Open champion Zach Johnson and reigning Honda Classic champion Padraig Harrington.

McIlroy, now ranked third in the world behind American Jordan Spieth and Australian Jason Day, is chasing his first victory of the year.

His best finish was a third place in Abu Dhabi. He was in contention at the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open last week, where his opening eagle in the final round gave him a share of the lead, but he closed with a 75.

This week’s tournament is a chance for him to bounce back and begin to build momentum going into the Masters, where a victory would see McIlroy complete a career Grand Slam.

"The great thing about golf is there’s always next week. If you do stumble, there’s the next week to pick yourself back up," he said.

AFP