In stunning 7-hole nosedive, Rory McIlroy drops 54 spots at Genesis Invitational  

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy on Thursday on the 18th hole at Riviera Country Club.

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Rory McIlroy, earlier this week in L.A., ahead of the Genesis Invitational, was recorded discussing the approach to Riviera’s par-3 16th. In one sequence, he dropped an iron to 2 feet. In another, he rolled in a 30-footer. It was engaging. It was informative. 

It made you wonder:

How did that dude do what that dude did, just a short while later?

In short, golf golfed. One minute, you’re a Hollywood filmmaker; the next, you’re a hack. During the first round of the Genesis, McIlroy stumbled. And it wasn’t just on 16, though that was the biggest blow. In the end, he dropped a whopping 54 spots on the leaderboard over a bizarre seven-hole stretch across Riv’s back nine. 

Thing is, though, McIlroy is a four-time major winner and the world’s second-ranked player. Thing is, though, Thursday had started rather auspiciously. On the tricky 10th, McIlroy birdied. On the 11th, he had just lipped out a birdie chance. On the 12th green, he was 10th. 



On the 12th, after hitting a tree off the tee, missing the green with his second shot and popping his ball up from the cabbage with his third, he bogeyed. He fell to 15th, where he stayed after pars on 13 and 14.  

On the par-4 15th, he slid further. Stroke one on the par-4 was left and into the rough. Stroke two came up short of the right greenside bunker. Stroke three was a flop attempt that flopped; it cleared the bunker, but came up short of the green. Stroke four was slightly mishit, and he was left with an 11-footer. He missed that. He made a double-bogey six, and he was now even-par and 42nd. 

Said announcer Steve Sands on the Golf Channel broadcast, to analyst Frank Nobilo: “Man, this game, Frank, it giveth and taketh.” 

Said Nobilo: “A bit like life, isn’t it?”

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But McIlroy was back to the 16th now! Hope! Show us how it’s done! Again! 

Or not. On the 166-yard par-3, he blocked his tee shot out to the right and into the right side of the front greenside bunker. There, in order to get a swing on the ball, he was forced to position his right leg onto a grassy hill behind him. It didn’t work. His ball hit the bunker lip. He tried again. It cleared, but his ball went 8 feet past the hole. Said Nobilo on the broadcast: “He didn’t hit that one good, either.” With his club, McIlroy pounded the bottom of his golf bag. From there, he three-putted. He was now three-over. He fell to 63rd. 

McIlroy birdied the par-5 17th. A rebound. But he bogeyed the par-4 18th. He was left off the tee, then short and right with his second shot, and his third shot was a slightly mishit pitch. 

He was done, though. A three-over 74. He’d played holes 12 through 18 at six-over par. 

In the 70-man field, McIlroy walked off tied for 64th. 

There’s still hope, though. While the event, dubbed ‘signature’ by the PGA Tour, will have a cut, the top 50 players and ties will play the weekend, as will those who are within 10 shots of the lead. 

And McIlroy is currently 10 back of leader Patrick Cantlay

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at