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Absent A-game at The Genesis Invitational, but has added two starts in next two months

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Rory McIlroy shot a third-round 69 at The Genesis Invitational and at 4-under par was far from contention. He’s still fighting the big number, having suffered a double bogey and triple bogey on 15 and 16, respectively, in Round 1 (74) at The Riviera Country Club.

Those mistakes came closer to the greens, he said, meaning they were at least different from his off-the-tee troubles that resulted in wrecks at the Dubai Invitational (quadruple bogey, second round, T2 finish) and the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am (triple bogey, first round, T66).

“Pebble was a bit of a write-off,” McIlroy said Saturday. “It was a very strange round on that first day going from 6-under to 1-under really quickly. And then yeah, it was just sort of, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say – not that I wasn’t giving it my all, but it was just sort of one of those weeks where … I wasn’t fully in it, I guess.

“I did some good work last week,” he continued. “My coach Michael Bannon came over and I felt pretty good about everything this week even though obviously not quite in contention. Game’s feeling pretty good.”

McIlroy made five birdies and three bogeys on an overcast day at Riviera, which for a player of his stature was not particularly good or bad. He theoretically could have taken the No. 1 ranking from Scottie Scheffler this week, had everything broken just so, but that was never in danger of happening.

Instead, with the trophy out of reach, McIlroy is taking the long view. He’s committed to playing more this season, and that includes his next start at the upcoming Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches starting Feb. 29, which he won in 2012 but hasn’t played since 2018 (T59), and which will afford him the luxury of a home game.

“Get to sleep in my own bed,” he said.

After that he’ll make his usual starts at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, followed by THE PLAYERS Championship – he’s won both – followed by another addition to his schedule, the Valero Texas Open.

Although McIlroy skipped that Texas staple last year, he’ll be returning largely because it immediately precedes the Masters, the one major he needs to complete the career Grand Slam.

“I feel like I play my best golf whenever I get on runs,” he said at Riviera.

He’s giving himself every opportunity to do just that.