Rory McIlroy's last-minute, last-ditch effort to right his game in time for the Masters next week has taken a trip to a usually out-of-the-way spot on the PGA Tour. McIlroy and three other highly ranked players in the Official World Golf Rankings start play in the Valero Texas Open on Thursday at TPC San Antonio.
"It obviously was a last-minute decision to come and play here in San Antonio," McIlroy said after his pro-am round Wednesday was washed out by rainstorms on his 13th hole. "But from what I see I like it. It should be a good week, a week where I can try to get my game sharp going to Augusta."
Big-name players don't often seek the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course at TPC to sharpen their games.
Last year, only two members of golf's top 50 (no one in the top 15) played on a course that ended with the highest overall scoring average on tour except the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.
In addition to McIlroy, top-15 ranked players Matt Kuchar (ninth), Ian Poulter (12th) and Charl Schwartz (15th) are teeing it up. Yet McIlroy's play since he won the PGA Champi- onship by a record eight-shot margin in August has dropped him a spot, to No. 2 from 1, while Tiger Woods went back to the top after three wins.
McIlroy started the year swinging the same brand of clubs as Woods, but not the same game. He missed a cut at Abu Dhabi, walked off the course as defending champ at Honda and got beat in opening-round play at the World Match Play in Arizona.
"I don't care if I miss 10 cuts in a row - if I win a major," McIlroy said. "I don't care. I mean, that's what it's all about, winning the big tournaments."
Kraft Nabisco Championship: Top-ranked Stacy Lewis is getting used to the spotlight.
"I guess I'm just more comfortable with who I am and more comfortable being in front of people," Lewis said. "I mean, certainly I think the kid that went to college and didn't speak unless spoken to would not be up on this stage right now. It's something I've had to learn how to do, just when you play good golf."
The 28-year-old Texas resident won consecutive tournaments this year in Singapore and Phoenix to take the No. 1 spot in the world. She won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco for her first LPGA Tour title and had four victories last season to become the tour's player of the year.
On Monday night at the pro-am party for the Rancho Mirage, Calif., event, she wore a one-shoulder patterned dress and heels.
"That's probably the place I'm least comfortable because it's not my style at all," Lewis said. "I'm more comfortable in jeans, a T-shirt and flip flops. I'm getting used to it. Having some help from my sisters ... helps the process a little bit."
Tseng comes back to earth: Yani Tseng enters the Kraft championship in a far different position and frame of mind than she did last year.
Winless in more than a year, Tseng lost the No. 1 spot in the world to Stacy Lewis three weeks ago in Phoenix, then was booted out of the Kia Classic a few days later when she overslept and missed her pro-am tee time.
Last year, the 24-year-old Taiwanese star - the 2010 winner at Mission Hills - won three of the first five events of the season and entered the major championship with consecutive victories in Phoenix and Carlsbad. She hasn't won since, a drought of 23 events.
Gulbis returns after bout of malaria: Natalie Gulbis is returning to play in the Kraft championship after recovering from malaria.
Infected by a mosquito during the LPGA Thailand event, Gulbis withdrew after the first round the following week in Singapore. She hoped to return two weeks ago in Carlsbad at the Kia Classic, but was back in the doctor's office after a practice round.