What happened at the Arnold Palmer Invitational?

Five birdies in his last six holes catapulted Rory McIlroy to his 14th win on the PGA Tour after a dazzling closing round of 64 – and his first as a married man and with his best mate Harry Diamond on the bag.

His last win came at the 2016 Tour Championship which was the same day as Arnold Palmer, the godfather and owner of Bay Hill, passed away.

The 28-year-old, who had missed two cuts in four previous starts with a best showing of T20, suddenly put it all together on Sunday to hold off an impressive Bryson DeChambeau.

McIlroy was the epitome of patience as his early birdie putts just stayed above ground but then things began to move in the right direction with three birdies at the 6th, 7th and 9th. He then went into overdrive on the back nine with a birdie at 13 to lead for the first time, added a 25-footer at the next and then chipped in at 15 (see below).

The two-putt birdie at 16, after a 377-yard tee shot to leave 119 into the par 5, was relatively dull.

But DeChambeau also picked up a shot at 13 and then made the most unlikely of eagles at 16 to stay within one but, up ahead at the last, McIlroy was rolling in yet another 25-footer for a back nine of 31. The American just missed out on his birdie at 17 and that was that.

Justin Rose, four over after six holes on Thursday and playing with McIlroy, didn’t drop a shot in his 67 but he would come up four short of his Ryder Cup team-mate in third. The overnight leader Henrik Stenson did plenty right but he couldn’t get the pace of the greens and he would sign for a 71 to finish in fourth on his own.

And for the second Sunday running we had another Tiger Woods charge as the 14-time major winner racked up the birdies to close within one of McIlroy and Stenson. But, just as we were all preparing to give him another one at the giveaway par-15 16th, he put his driver in someone’s back garden.

There was a tap-in birdie with his second ball but his race was run and he holed from the fringe on the last, the scene of eight of his wins on the PGA Tour, for a par, a 69, a share of fifth and another huge sign that he is getting better with every showing.

So far in 2018 Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey have all won – and now McIlroy.

We all keep saying it but roll on Augusta..

Talking Point

We all like to hear some good news on Rory’s putting and this week we heard some good news on Rory’s putting. While he tweaked his backswing to more of a three-quarter length takeaway to try and reduce a two-way miss it was the update on his putting stroke that caught the attention.
And, is generally the way, it was a more simplistic approach that was reaping some dividends.”I was using the line on the ball and maybe just getting bogged down a little bit too much in mechanics, trying to hit perfect putts instead of – you know, the hole is quite wide, you don’t have to hit perfect putts for it to go in. So just trying to be a little imperfect, just be a little more freer,” explained McIlroy.
And there were a few word of encouragement from Brad Faxon who is generally renowned as one of the best putters ever.
“We had a chat on Monday. He lives down in Palm Beach Gardens near where I am and just had a chat. It was more, didn’t really hit many putts, it was more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”Going into the week McIlroy was ranked 124th in putting, after three rounds he was picking up 7.5 shots on the field to sit in second place on the putting rankings.

Best Quote?

Bryson DeChambeau on the state of his back – “Well it was the QL and that really got inflamed for me. It was because my quadratus lumborum wasn’t working, my illiacus, longissimus thoracis, they were all kind of over working, if you want to get technical on that. Pretty much my lower right back was hurting and I rested it. How about that?”

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