Rory McIlroy in confident mood

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Four weeks after missing the cut in his first event with Nike golf clubs, Rory McIlroy is confident his game is in much better shape ahead of Wednesday’s opening WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship clash against Shane Lowry.

Rory has not competed since missing the cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship but said he was feeling refreshed after mixing some holiday time with some practice over the past month.

“I’m actually much happier with how I’m swinging the club,” said the World Number One.

“The clubs were performing fine in Abu Dhabi, it was just the fact that I wasn’t swinging at my best. I feel like I’ve turned a corner with my swing. I’ve got it back on track, and that’s ultimately what’s going to help me play better.”

The 23-year-old, who has put a new putter and a slightly heavier driver in his bag this week, said he had prepared himself for likely criticism when his switch to Nike was announced last month.

“I knew it would happen if I didn’t play well, and I probably put a little bit too much pressure on myself to play well because of that,” he said, “Abu Dhabi was a busy week. There was a lot going on. But I’ve had a nice few weeks off and I feel like I’m coming into this event prepared, ready and swinging the club well.

“Hopefully that can translate into playing some good golf and getting quite far into this week.”

McIlroy lost out to American Hunter Mahan in last year’s final and begins his quest on Wednesday against a former amateur team mate.

“We played foursomes together for Ireland,” he said,

“We were part of the same Irish amateur team for a few years.

“If we’d have thought playing in the European team championships at Western Gailes that we’d be playing in the first round of the Match Play here in a few years’ time ... it’s pretty cool to think where we’ve come from.”

The draw has not been good to Ireland’s contenders in Arizona.

Graeme McDowell will face Padraig Harrington in Wednesday’s opening round and all four players are in the same side of the draw which means there is a distinct possibility of another all-Ireland clash before the quarter-finals.