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He was the defending champion and No. 1 in the world last year, newly signed to a big Nike contract and struggling to break par. He also was in the early stages of leaving a management company for the second time in two years. It all got to be too much, and as he walked up to the 18th green at PGA National, he shook hands and headed straight to the parking lot. He said then he was "not in a good place mentally."
Now he is playing well. He is adjusted to his equipment. He's engaged to tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, who followed him around the golf course.
"I'm in a great place," McIlroy said. "I couldn't be happier."
The finish didn't hurt. The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland took aim at the flag over the water on the par-3 17th and made a 12-foot birdie putt. He finished with a fairway metal into the front bunker, and a simple shot to 4 feet for birdie on the par-5 closing hole.
He still hasn't won a PGA Tour event since the BMW Championship at the end of the 2012 season. He hasn't won on the European Tour since Dubai at the end of that year to capture the money title on both sides of the Atlantic.
But with every tournament, he's moving in the right direction.
"I've reached a point now where I'm very comfortable with everything in my game and my swing," he said. "I'm seeing shots the way I want to see them. When I do that, I feel like the scores are just a byproduct of all the hard work and making good swings."
DIVOTS: Phil Mickelson, playing PGA National for the first time since he was an amateur, had two birdies and a double bogey for a 70. ... Masters champion Adam Scott, in his first tournament in six weeks, opened with a 68. ... Jason Allred, whose tie for third at Riviera enabled him to get into the Honda Classic, opened with a 75. Allred had not played a regular PGA Tour event since 2008 until the Northern Trust Open.
|Chicago Cubs||0||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Cincinnati||7||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|NY Mets||4||Top 4th Inning|
|San Diego||0||Top 3rd Inning|
|San Francisco||3||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Texas||2||Top 3rd Inning|
|Arizona||4||Top 4th Inning|
|LA Angels||1||Bottom 3rd Inning|
|Los Angeles||9:05 PM|
|New Jersey||6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||7:00 PM|
|NC State||54||2nd Half 4:31|
|Georgia||43||2nd Half 12:41|
|George Washington||31||2nd Half|
|Michigan State||43||1st Half 0:07|
|Prairie View||27||1st Half 5:15|
|New Mexico||5:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Morgan State||5:00 PM|
|North Dakota||7:00 PM|
|Sam Houston St||7:30 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|New Mexico St|
|Cal Poly||9:30 PM|
|New England||0||2nd Half|
|Red Bull New York||0|
|Toronto FC||2||1st Half 20:00|
|FC Dallas||7:30 PM|
|Sporting Kansas City|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|Fla Gulf Coast||64|
|Coll of Charleston||52||FINAL|
|McNeese State||44||2nd Half 5:36|
|Stephen F Austin||65|
|USC Upstate||50||2nd Half 3:38|
|Seattle||29||2nd Half 18:18|
|Montana||32||2nd Half 15:33|
|Cal Poly||24||2nd Half 16:40|
|Illinois State||3||1st Half 18:33|
|Holy Cross||5:00 PM|
|Southern Miss||7:00 PM|
|(22) Middle Tennessee|
|Western Ky||8:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|