The world No 1 was at odds with his swing throughout the week in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, where he closed with a level-par 72 after hitting two balls into the water at the 18th.
McIlroy was forced to apologise for throwing his three-iron into a lake in disgust on Friday after pulling his second shot to the eighth, although he was reunited with the club ahead of his final round after Doral owner Donald Trump commissioned a diver to retrieve it.
The 25-year-old, who had played with 13 clubs on Saturday rather than the permitted 14, asked Trump “Is it dry?” before putting the club straight into his bag with a sheepish grin. He then told Trump he would give the club back following the tournament to be auctioned off for charity.
McIlroy jokingly threatened to dispose of the three-iron in the same fashion after tugging his third into the water at the last having already rinsed his drive.
He chipped in to salvage a double-bogey six which dropped him to one under for the tournament, eight shots behind champion Dustin Johnson, and McIlroy now has only one tournament on his schedule before he heads to Augusta National.
McIlroy will make his debut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in a fortnight, and he remains determined to get his game into shape before the first major of the season.
“The game’s just not quite there. I’ve got a week off now to try and work on it a little bit,” said McIlroy, who missed the cut at last week’s Honda Classic. “I am pretty disappointed with how I played overall. I felt it was a little better again today for the most part but a bit of a disappointing finish. But it’s just not quite 100 percent.
“My inability to hit the ball right-to-left isn’t something that you want going into Augusta. It is something I want to try and work on a little bit.
“Statistically, I hit the ball better this week. Still it’s just not quite as comfortable as I would like. I’ve got a week off now to try to work on the game a bit and get a little sharper for Bay Hill.
“I’m tentative, a little bit scared to play certain shots, because I feel like I can’t at the minute. So, hitting away from flags, trying to make sure that I am missing it in the right areas. Just playing quite conservatively, which is very much unlike me.
“I have just got to get back at it and try to figure out what I need to do, but I have no concerns about that. It’s not something I need to play my way out of. It’s just something that I need to stand on the range and beat balls until I feel comfortable with it again.”
McIlroy will play practice rounds at Augusta National next week with his father??Gerry and some friends, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“I’ll just be trying to hit shots that I need,” he added. “I’ll be hitting a??lot of draws, or trying to hit a lot of draws, anyway.”