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Rory McIlroy gets back to work with pre-Masters tune-up in Houston

Theworld number seven ends a three-week break with his return for the PGA Tour event in Humble, Texas.

Rory McIlroy applauds as fiancee Caroline Wozniacki takes on Li Na at the Sony Open Tennis tournament in Florida.
Rory McIlroy applauds as fiancee Caroline Wozniacki takes on Li Na at the Sony Open Tennis tournament in Florida.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

RORY MCILROY GETS to action at the Houston Open as several of the world’s best plan to use the event to prepare for the year’s first major.

The Northern Irish world number seven ends a three-week break with his return for the PGA Tour event at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas.

McIlroy, 24, has managed three top-10 finishes in 2014 but he remains without a victory despite two tied for second results. The two-time major champion will have to overcome a strong field to have any chance of heading to the Masters at Augusta in winning form.

There are five of the world’s top-10 ranked golfers in action and 11 of the top 20 ahead of the Masters starting on 10 April. Swedish world number three Henrik Stenson was tied for second at the Houston Open last year, when DA Points claimed a one-shot victory.

Stenson has been unable to replicate the form that saw him win the FedExCup in 2013 but looks to be building. His best result of 2014 came in his last start as he finished tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

World number five and 2011 champion Phil Mickelson, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson are the other top-10 players in the field.

Like McIlroy, Johnson looks to be closing in on a victory and should be among the challengers at the Masters. The American world number 10′s worst result of the year was a tied for 33rd at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

Otherwise, his efforts have included a second, tied for second, tied for fourth and tied for sixth.

Americans Matt Kuchar (world number 11), Jordan Spieth (13), Steve Stricker (15), Keegan Bradley (18) and South African Charl Schwartzel (17) and Englishman Ian Poulter (19) are also in the field.

A win would be the perfect way to enter a Masters and several of the world’s best will be eager to ensure they are in form.

Tiger Woods ruled out of the Masters following surgery

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