Rory McIlroy was seething. Then he did something likely no one has ever done

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on Saturday on the 3rd hole at Bay Hill.

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Rory McIlroy was hot. Seething. He’d played his first six holes at Bay Hill at even par, then bogeyed 7 — on a three-putt. On 8, he missed the fairway from the tee. 

And when you’re hot, you get occasionally mad. Smash-the-tee-box-marker mad. McIlroy got there — and he crunched the innocent bystander after his tee shot.

And then he really unloaded.

On a ball. 

At a level that likely no one has ever achieved.

On the 401-yard, par-4 10th, during the Arnold Palmer Invitational’s third round on Saturday, McIlroy lined up a few degrees to his right. He looked up. He swung. His ball cleared the gallery. It cleared tents. It cleared housing. It dropped short of the green. 

It rolled on. 

A 365-yard poke in all. Many others have cut the corner on the dogleg right. No one — at least since 2003, when the PGA Tour started tracking — had driven the green

“Oh my gosh,” analyst Curt Byrum said on the Golf Channel broadcast. 

Yeah, that, and maybe some other thoughts. 

A few pros had come close to matching McIlroy this year. Ben An drove one into the left greenside bunker. Justin Thomas drove one just to the right of the right greenside bunker. Sam Burns’ ball finished just in front of the green. Most balls were farther back. It’s certainly risky to play with the trouble the shot presents — notably, McIlroy had almost hit his ball out of bounds a day earlier. 

Afterward, he said he had never tried the play. 

“But I wasn’t as long as I am now,” McIlroy said. “I’m definitely a good few yards longer over the last couple of years than I have been in the past. I thought if I got it in one of the two front traps that would be a good leave to hit something up the green, but, yeah, I wasn’t trying to hit it on the green, but it was nice to walk up and see it on there.”

From there, from about 65 feet away, McIlroy two-putted for birdie. 

Then he birdied 12. 

And 13. 

And 16, 17 and 18

He finished with a back-nine 30, after shooting a front-nine 38, and McIlroy was back in contention, with one round to go. 

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All of which he thought grew from his episode on 8. 

“I think so,” McIlroy said, “like a bit of a reset, a bit of — it would have been nice to see a par on 8 today.

“But, you know, I played the last 10 holes in 6-under after that, so it was, yeah, sometimes you need to let it out, and not let it sort of just build up inside you, I guess.”

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