McIlroy is playing Bay Hill for the first time in his career, and he admitted regret at that after getting his first look at the course ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
“What Arnold Palmer has done for our game and what he’s done for the PGA Tour,??it was about time that I showed up here and played in his tournament,” McIlroy said.
The world No 1 spent part of last week at Augusta, and revealed he had enjoyed his time there, where he teed up alongside his father Gerry and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for a pre-Masters practice round.
McIlroy is taking his trip to Bay Hill seriously but admitted he has one eye on the season’s first major, where victory would complete a career Grand Slam.
“I took three weeks off before the Masters in 2011 and it worked pretty well??for 63 holes, not quite 72,” McIlroy said, referrring to his final round swoon that year, when he started the final 18 holes with a four-stroke lead.
“I am just trying to adopt a similar approach.
“(Last week was) 100 per cent fun, zero per cent serious. I didn’t hit any extra balls, just hit one ball the whole time.
“I just wanted to go and enjoy it with my dad, that’s what the whole thing was about. There were four father-and-son pairs and we had a great time.
“Tee to green I know what I am doing, it’s just about being comfortable on and??around the greens.
“I am??feeling much better with my game than I was walking off Doral 10 days ago.
“I am excited in the direction it’s going and to be here and get one more??competitive outing and try to get myself into contention.”