Rory McIlroy has done a Masters u-turn and opted to play the week before Augusta after all – with a charity trip to Haiti put on the long finger.

The two time Major winner entered the Texas Open with half an hour to spare on Friday night after just making the cut with a shot to spare in Houston.

McIlroy and coach Michael Bannon made the decision to play the week before the Masters after the 23-year-old scraped into the weekend action at Redstone where he finished well down the field.

Last year McIlroy opted not to play for three weeks before Augusta but a succession of missed cuts and poor form has forced his change of plan.

Recently topped from his world number one spot by Tiger Woods, McIlroy has postponed a trip to Haiti on behalf of Unicef.

Before Saturday’s third round in Houston, McIlroy had only played 10 competitive rounds in a difficult start to 2013, and this is the first cut he has made.

McIlroy will now use the weekend at Houston and the tournament at Texas to prepare for the Masters.

“As I said, no one likes missing cuts and especially when it’s my last one before the Masters,” he said.

“It’s nice to have some more rounds to look forward to in Texas, do some work on the range and hopefully improve on the course.

“I need to get more confidence in what I’m doing and to trust my swing.

“It’s more of a mental thing than a mechanical thing at this point. But I’m hitting it well and feel that everything is nearly there.”
Long Shot Takes Grand National

DANISH born trainer Dot Love shocked a big Fairyhouse crowd when Liberty Counsel won the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National on Monday at a whopping 50-1, with jockey Ben Dalton on board.

Liberty Counsel held off Away We Go to record a famous victory for the little known trainer and jockey.

Home Farm (10-1) and Sweeney Tunes (12-1) finished third and fourth respectively.

Dalton said, “The going was a big help to her. I thought if she was fifth or sixth it would have been a great run, but she’s improving all the time.

“I knew she’d stay right to the line. She winged the last and kept finding more.”

Denmark-born Love became the first woman to train the Irish Grand National winner since Jenny Pitman, who struck with Mudahim in 1997.

Love said, “I’m over the moon. She deserved it. The ground didn’t suit at Cheltenham, but she really tried there.  She’s a super mare and a very good jumper.

“Ben gave her a super ride. With a low weight and very good ground we were confident. I would have been happy if she had been fourth.”
Jock Left Paralyzed by Fall

DOCTORS have confirmed that Irish jockey JT McNamara has been left paralyzed after his fall at the Cheltenham Festival last month.

A statement issued on behalf of the McNamara family read, “JT McNamara remains in the Frenchay Hospital, Bristol.

“Whilst he suffered a serious neck injury resulting in paralysis, he has made progress in the last week and is in a very positive frame of mind.

“He is greatly appreciative of the many messages, cards and letters received and also wishes to thank the Frenchay Hospital who are looking after him so well.”

A fund to help McNamara cope with his injuries received a major boost on Monday when Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary donated $300,000 after one of his horses won the bumper on the Irish Grand National card at Fairyhouse.
Rugby Shorts

Ulster Dominates Rabo League

ULSTER’S status as the dominant Irish province this season was confirmed with a 22-18 win over Leinster in the Rabo 12 League on Saturday night, their first win in Dublin since 1999. Glasgow hammered Munster 51-24 in the same competition, but Connacht’s match at Treviso was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch...

ULSTER will play their Heineken Cup semifinal at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin if they can beat Saracens in the quarters in London this Saturday. Munster will travel to Montpellier for the semis if they beat Harlequins this weekend.  The Reds hope to have Ireland winger Simon Zebo fit for the game in London...

CIAN Healy, Mike McCarthy, Leo Cullen, Sean Cronin, Luke Fitzgerald, Fergus McFadden, Richardt Strauss and Devin Toner are among 23 players to agree new deals with Leinster...

CONNACHT flanker and former Irish international Johnny O’Connor has announced his retirement from competitive rugby at the end of the season...

THE IRFU have decided not to appeal against Brian O’Driscoll’s three-week suspension for stamping during the Six Nations defeat in Italy...

CONNACHT have signed Lansdowne number 10 Craig Ronaldson.

Northern Irish golfing champ Rory McIlroyGoogle Images