By Simon Evans
MIAMI (Reuters) - World number one Rory McIlroy said his confidence was returning from its lowest point ever after shooting a one-under round of 71 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Saturday.
McIlroy made six birdies as he recovered from a poor start with a bogey on the third and a double-bogey on the next hole, where he found water.
Having failed to make below par this year until Friday's second round, another scorecard in the red was clearly pleasing to the Northern Irishman as he tries to get his swing back in order and his confidence with it.
"It was probably the lowest it's ever been. But I guess putting in the hard work and knowing what I'm doing is the right thing, and that I'm going in the right direction, gives me confidence going into the next few weeks," he told reporters after finishing his round on the Blue Monster course at Doral.
"Even the bad shots are coming out of the middle of the clubface. I'm excited about my game, coming into this week, I was a bit down about it. But after these few days and seeing some shots that I've hit on the course, I'm a lot happier going forward."
While McIlroy has never been even close to being in contention this week, he has managed to put aside the controversy that surrounded his mid-round walkoff at the Honda Classic last week.
McIlroy had played his first eight holes at the PGA National at seven-over and after quitting his second round, spent the weekend trying to get his swing fixed.
One week on, the 23-year-old certainly looks a more relaxed and happier figure on the course.
"This time last week, I was standing on the range at The Bear's Club grinding my ass off trying to find a swing that worked.
"To practice it and put it into play this week, and actually see some good results. I'm definitely in a better place," he said.
While McIlroy has looked more controlled off the tee, it has been his short game that has cost him some strokes this week and he said he intends to turn to that side of his game before his next tournament in Houston on March 28.
"I just sort of neglected the wedge play and chipping, just because I've been working so hard on my swing," he said.
"But I feel like that's getting better now and I can devote a little bit more time to the wedge play and get that sharp, as well."
(Editing by Gene Cherry)