Rory McIlroy believes his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be a huge confidence boost for the Masters as he credited Brad Faxon for freeing up his mind.
McIlroy produced a stunning performance at Bay Hill on Sunday to claim his first victory since September 2016, a searing stretch on the back nine in which he birdied five of his final six holes helping him to a closing 64.
The four-time major champion finished three strokes clear of Bryson DeChambeau, who had put the pressure on with an eagle at 16, finishing off a magnificent round with a 25-foot birdie putt at 18.
McIlroy, who was plagued by rib issues in 2017, has been working with PGA Tour pro Faxon, and with those efforts clearly paying dividends, he feels his performance in Florida can be a shot in the arm for his hopes of completing the full set of majors at Augusta next month.
Asked about the impact this success will have on his confidence, McIlroy said: "It's huge. The shots that I was able to hit under pressure, coming down the stretch, the two five-irons into the par-threes on the back nine, the wedge shots, the putts, the drive on 16, the three-wood on 18 after the last three-wood I hit on that hole I hit it out of bounds left on Thursday.
"All these little barriers that you have to overcome, whether it be physical or mental, yes, it's huge for my confidence going into the next few weeks and I kept saying I didn't need a win going into Augusta to feel like I had a chance, I just wanted to see signs of good golf, and thankfully I've been able to get both.
"Really proud of myself, how I hung in there over the past year, with injuries and taking a little bit of time off at the end of last year to sort of get myself right coming into this year and all that work, hard work has finally paid off.
"I kept telling everyone, even when I was missing cuts and finishing 60th, it wasn't that far away, so just a couple little tweaks here and there and it's nice to be in this position again."
On Faxon, who is acclaimed for his putting, McIlroy added: "[He's] freed up my head more than my stroke, it was more, I was sort of felt like maybe complicating things a bit and thinking a little bit too much about it and maybe a little bogged down by technical or mechanical thoughts.
"The objective is to get that ball in the hole and that's it. I think I lost sight of that a little bit. That sounds silly, I guess, but just reminded myself that it doesn't matter how you do it as long as that thing goes in and that's sort of the mindset I had this week."
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