By Steve Elling
DORAL, Fla. -- Tiger and Rory, Rory and Tiger.
For obvious reasons, after last weekend's scintillating Sunday at the Honda Classic, those names were thrown around in close proximity abut a bazillion times this week heading into the Cadillac Championship.
"After what happened last Sunday, Tiger shoots 62, I end up winning to go to world No. 1, obviously people are going to talk," Rory McIlroy said Thursday. "Everyone has to remember, there's 80 other players in this field or whatever it is, and it's not just about a couple of guys."
Well, call it a competitive hangover, but the two primary combatants in last weekend's shootout had something in common at Doral Golf Resort & Spa as well -- neither broke par.
While Woods was shooting 72, McIlroy never got anything resembling momentum going while playing alongside the last two players to have been ranked No. 1 before him, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood. He finished with a 1-over 73.
"To be honest I felt a little flat out there," McIlroy said. "I don't know, I shouldn't, it's a World Golf Championship, but just felt a little flat out there. But, look, I'll go out there tomorrow and try my best, try and get it into red figures and see what I can do."
McIlroy managed birdies on three of the Blue Monster's four par-5 holes, but nothing else. He has finished T5 or better in 10 of his last 11 global starts. It represented his first score above par since a 2-over 73 at Kolon Korean Open on Oct. 8.
He played in the finals of the Accenture Match Play Championship outside Tucson, Ariz., where he lost to Hunter Mahan, before wining last week in Palm Beach Gardens. Even at 22, he might be getting a little frayed.
"I mean, physically, I'm fine," he said. "But mentally, I don't know, it's tough. Arizona and you've got a chance to go to world No. 1; and then Honda, you've got a chance to, then -- all of a sudden you're there, and you're like, well, what do you do?
"I just need to go out and set myself a target tomorrow and try and post a number."