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Vintage McIlroy Erupts on Bay Hill’s Back Nine to Win API

 

As it turns out, Rory McIlroy is still Rory McIlroy.

It was not quite the comeback story that the massive crowds at the Arnold Palmer Invitational were hoping for, but a fascinating tale still unfolded at Bay Hill Club and Lodge as a reinvigorated McIlroy birdied five of the last six holes to win by three strokes over Bryson DeChambeau.

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With one of the best putting performances by any player in recent memory, McIlroy overcame his abysmal recent form to shoot a final-round 8-under 64, and capture his first victory since the 2016 Tour Championship. That previous win came, ironically, on 09/25/2016, the same day that the API’s namesake, and golf icon, Arnold Palmer sadly passed away.

“Yeah, it was bittersweet. Obviously I had a great win and it was a great day for me, but in the overall picture of the big scheme of things that didn’t matter,” said McIlroy.

“The game of golf had lost an icon, a legend, an inspiration to so many of us, and yeah, I probably wasn’t as ecstatic as maybe I would have been if Arnie hadn’t had passed away.

“So a little bit bittersweet and obviously it’s ironic that I come back here 18 months on and win for the first time at Bay Hill and everything that’s associated with that.”

Perhaps the most incredible thing about this victory, however, is that Rory winning was actually considered a surprise. He was coming off a winless season plagued by a nagging rib injury, and after posting some quality results in Europe early in 2018, his four PGA Tour events of the calendar year had finishes of CUT, T20, T59, and CUT, respectively, and those results gave Rory much longer odds than he is accustomed to having.

Still, it was expected that the four-time major winner would come back into world-class form at some point, and that ended up being this week.

“Really proud of myself, how I hung in there over the pass sort of 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,” continued McIlroy.

“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.”

As for the comeback victory most were expecting, eight-time API winner Tiger Woods got himself into the mix with a phenomenal start on Sunday, but a few stumbles down the stretch kept his long winless streak intact. A 3-under 69 led to a T5 finish, his second consecutive start, though, inside the top 5.

 

FINAL TOP 10

1 Rory McIlroy -18
2 Bryson DeChambeau -15
3 Justin Rose -14
4 Henrik Stenson -13
T5 Tiger Woods, Ryan Moore -10
T7 Kevin Chappell -8
T7 Patrick Reed -8
T7 Patrick Rodgers -8
T7 Marc Leishman -8
T7 Luke List -8
T7 Sean O’Hair -8


NOTABLES

14 Rickie Fowler -6
22 Jason Day -5
22 Graeme McDowell -5
26 Zach Johnson -4
26 Tommy Fleetwood -4
36 Alex Noren -3
41 Adam Scott -2
41 Ian Poulter -2
49 Hideki Matsuyama -1
49 Ernie Els -1
54 Billy Horschel E
54 Brian Harman E
58 Davis Love III +1
66 Bubba Watson +3
73 Jimmy Walker +8

 

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