Rory McIlroy implodes in five-hole stretch at Arnold Palmer Invitational, finishes T5

March 8, 2020

Another Sunday on the PGA Tour and another stretch of holes Rory McIlroy wishes he could have back. Such is life for the No. 1 player in the world in the early portion of the 2020 season.

McIlroy entered the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational within striking distance of the top of the leaderboard, and again, his chances at victory seemingly imploded in mind-boggling fashion. He shot 40 on the front (with two doubles in a four-hole stretch) and signed for a 76 to tie for 5th, four back of winner Tyrrell Hatton.

“If I hadn’t [doubled those two holes] I would have had a good chance,” he said. “But, yeah, it was tough. Look, I stood up here yesterday saying that the key tomorrow was to keep the big numbers off your card and I made two of those today and that’s what cost me.”

It began on the 5th hole, McIlroy at five under seeking to snag his second career win at Arnie’s event. After an errant tee shot and subsequent blocked approach left him with an up-and-down to save par, McIlroy couldn’t find the green. Instead, McIlroy chunked his chip into the sand and tapped-in for bogey. It only pushed him to even par on the afternoon (two back of the leader, Hatton), but proved to be the beginning of his unraveling.

On the following hole, the par-5 6th, McIlroy badly thinned his wedge from another fairway bunker. His ball hopelessly skittered through the green and into the rocks beyond the hole. Three shots later, a double-bogey 7 moved him four strokes back.

The air sufficiently sucked out of his round, McIlroy avoided trouble on the 7th and 8th holes only to hook his drive nearly out of play on the par-4 9th. After a recovery punch into the fairway and three-putt, McIlroy’s nightmare Sunday was all but over. A soul-crushing bogey-double-double stretch that left him four over on the day, six back, and still yet to make the turn.

McIlroy added a bogey and a birdie on the back for his 76, which was 10 strokes worse than what he shot on Thursday. It’s McIlroy’s fifth straight top five to start 2020, and his sixth straight dating back to his win at the Tour Championship.

“I’m doing what I expect myself to do every week, which is giving myself a chance,” McIlroy said. “I give myself a chance most weeks and the more weeks than not it’s not going to happen. That’s just the way golf is.”

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