A last hole double-bogey spoiled Rory McIlroy’s hopes of his lowest PGA Tour round this year with the World No. 13 signing for a three-under par 69 on day one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
McIlroy enjoyed a share of the lead in the $8.9m event in birding three holes in succession from the sixth hole and then birdiing the 10th on the famed Bay Hill course in suburban Orlando.
But sticking out like a sore thumb on his scorecard was a ‘6’ at the last that ruined efforts to break 68, his lowest round on the course.
Also a par at the last for a 67 would have been McIlroy’s lowest round in 2018 on the PGA Tour and naturally a huge lift heading into the Masters.
McIlroy had birdied the first hole ahead of a trio of birdies from the sixth hole and with the pick being holing an 11-footer at the seventh that moved him to four-under.
He then went into a then share of the lead hitting a 79-yard wedge shot to just four feet at the 10th.
The effort spoke highly of his comments on the eve of the event when he spoke of the peaks and troughs that have highlighted his pro career, and the fact that usually after an intensive practice session with his long-time coach he has bounced back with a victory.
Then after seven straigtht pars McIlroy came to the last at Bay Hill tied in third place but then ‘double-crossing’ himself with a bad swing on his 3-wood final hole tee shot that flew 256-yards left and over the cart path managing fortunately not to have travelled out-of-bounds.
McIlroy had 179-yards to the green but given his path was blocked by a tree he took the option to chip back to the fairway and from 145-yards he finished short of the green and then two-putted from four-feet.
In normal circumstances you would give a golfer ‘the day off’ after ending in such a manner whereas if it had been Colin Montgomerie is his prime you dare not go anywhere near the Scot.
But Rory McIlroy being Rory McIlroy, he happily chatted to just three journalists after his round.
“Yeah, and one bad swing at the end. The tee shot, did exactly what I wanted to with the first one, just trying to hit it up the left side and bring it back and just double crossed it,” he said.
A wider check of McIlroy’s scorecard reveals he birdied just one of the four par-5s and therein McIlroy admits was half the battle over his opening round of his fourth straight appearance in ‘Arnie’s’ event.
“I need to play the par-5s better. This is a golf course where you need to play the par-3s well and play the par-5s well and to be only 1- under on the par-5s is, I need to do that better,” he admitted.
“So, I guess with shooting what I shot today and only being that, it’s not disastrous. But yeah, I need to take advantage of the par-5s. Look, Tiger’s won it plenty of times around here and that’s what he did, he can be conservative and play conservative for the most part, but if you make birdies on the par-5s, you’re going to be right up there.”
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