Rory McIlroy finished just one shot off first place during a topsy-turvy final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday at Bay Hill in Florida. It was a wild final day that saw McIlroy finished in a tie for second. It seemed likely that McIlroy could be part of a playoff to feature four or five players. In the end Kurt Kitayama won his first PGA event following a huge birdie on 17 and a brave par on 18. His winning score for the tournament was nine under par.
It was a rollercoaster of a final round. McIlroy's final round featured seven birdies and five bogeys. Kitayama won despite a triple bogey on the ninth hole, which seemed catastrophic in the moment. Six different players held the lead in the final round, and the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Harris English, Danny Willett and Jordan Spieth were all in the reckoning, only to be tripped up by the challenging course.
Interestingly, when speaking to media after the round, McIlroy wondered if the TV audience at home would be entertained by all the bogeys when asked about the atmosphere at Bay Hill.
"Yeah, I certainly felt it on the golf course, so I'm sure it was pretty good to watch. It's hard because the lead's changing hands with guys making bogeys, not really making birdies. So don't know how people find that entertainment value."
A scan of social media proves that people were hugely entertained by watching the best golfers in the world challenged by a great golf course.
Rory McIlroy reflects on second place finish
McIlroy was ultimately quite happy with his second place
“Yeah, bad start, really good middle, and then -- well, not a bad finish.”
Rory McIlroy started his final round on six under. McIlroy got off to a dreadful start as he played the first two holes in two over. He didn’t let the poor start affect him as McIlroy started the recovery with a birdie on par five 4th. The 5th hole at Bay Hill is a short par four with McIlroy achieving his second birdie. The 6th hole is a risky par five with water down the left and McIlroy failed to convert his left to right putt for birdie. He went back to five under after a bogey on the difficult par three seventh.
McIlroy’s charge started on the ninth after making an incredible birdie. McIlroy decided to lay up on the 10th and this was the correct decision as he hit an amazing wedge shot. This birdie put him only two behind the lead with eight holes to go. McIlroy took advantage of his length as he set up a long-range eagle putt on the par five 12th. He managed to get down in two and went in front on nine under after a great downhill putt for birdie on 13th hole.
The last five holes at Bay Hill are tough and only includes one good birdie opportunity at the short par five 16th. McIlroy also said “the one thing I'll rue is the tee shot on 14.” As he missed the green and failed to get up and down for a par. McIlroy revealed “a bad swing off the tee on 15.” He went back to seven under after a lip out for par on the 15th. He bounced back to eight under after a two-putt birdie on the easy 16th.
McIlroy put his second shot to 10 feet on the 18th. McIlroy thought “I hit a good putt. It just missed on the low side.” He shot a final round of 70 to finish on eight under. McIlroy received $1,780,000 for finishing in a tie for second. McIlroy takes positives into The Players at Sawgrass “I saw some positive signs. Game's rounding into form for the bulk of the season.”
Padraig Harrington continues to be amazing as he made the cut at Bay Hill. He ended up finishing tied 53rd after a final round of 75. Shane Lowry went into the weekend on two under but had a third round to forget after shooting eight over. Lowry shot 71 in the final round to finish in 67th on five over. Seamus Power also made the cut at Bay Hill but he finished dead last after a final round of six over.
Leona Maguire played at HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore. Three rounds of two under and a final round of one under for Maguire in Singapore. Maguire finished in a tie for 20th on seven under.
Good weekend for McIlroy but disappointing for Lowry and Power.