Rory McIlroy has plenty of homework to do ahead of teeing-up in Thursday’s lucrative Players Championship.
The double Wells Fargo champion left Quail Hollow after frustrating a display posting a last day 71 for a clubhouse share of 16th place at three-under par.
McIlroy who had posted earlier scores of 68, 76 and 66 managed three final day birdies, and the best being a 24-footer at the par-3 17th, but taking the gloss off his last round were bogeys at 11, 14 and then at the uphill last where he found the small stream running down the left side of the hole with his drive.
It was the second day in succession McIlroy had bogeyed the 18th.
And ahead of Thursday’s starting Players McIlroy was asked his thoughts of now tackling TPC Sawgrass.
“I’ve learnt to love it, to like it,” he said.
“I hated it the first time. I felt like it handcuffed me so I’ve learnt to take it for what it is, a very positional golf course. You’ve got to plot your way around, and pars aren’t so bad around there most of the time. You’ve also just got to get yourself in the right frame of mind to go out and do that.”
Seamus Power found himself the leading Irishman when he drained a monster 45-footer for birdie at the par-3 13th hole to move to move to three-under in total.
The opening two holes of the famed ‘Green Mile’, the 16th and 17th, jumped up to bite the West Waterford with back-to-back bogeys in an eventual round of 70 that handed Power a one-under tally for a share of 30th place.
Also ending one-under was Graeme McDowell who shot a final day one-over 72.
A shot further back was Shane Lowry, who much like Power, was three-under for his round through 14 holes before his only bogey at the 15th.
Lowry this week joins McIlroy as the only Irish heading south to Ponte Vedre, Florida for Thursday’s start to the $11m Players.
Players Championship organisers have grouped McIlroy, and winner of the 2015 season-ending FedEx championship, with the past two winners in Jordan Spieth (2016) and Justin Thomas (2017) for the opening two rounds at TPC Sawgrass.