Scott prevails at Riviera as McIlroy gets the Sunday blues

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Rory McIlroy’s quest to turn the Genesis Invitational final round into a blockbuster Hollywood victory thriller unfortunately ended in a bit of a flop.

The newly-crowned World No. 1 began the final round right in the mix, locked in a three-way tie for the lead, but all hope of a first win of the New Year ended as he posted a final round 73 for an eight-under par tally on the Riviera course.

Aussie Adam Scott ended a 15-year PGA Tour injustice and in the process captured a second straight victory for the second time in his career, returning a final day 70 for a two-stroke victory.

The 39-year old former Masters champ was two-under after three but then, and much akin to McIlroy, dropped three shots in two-holes, but unlike McIlroy, Scott regrouped to then post three birdies over the ensuing lucky 13 holes.

Back in 2005, Scott won at Riviera in a play-off when the constant rain reduced the event to 36-holes.

Scott in claiming a then fourth of now 14 PGA Tour wins, was awarded the full prize cheque and World Ranking points with the win also appearing on Wikipedia and on European, Asian and Australasian Tour records but not officially recognised on PGA Tour records.

“When you win and then you’re told it’s not a win, that was not so good. Even though I had the trophy, it was not official,” he said.

“So, that has been just a bit of motivation for me to again win here and to now have an official victory at Riviera and the Genesis Open is extremely satisfying.”

It will not be lost on Scott also, in playing alongside McIlroy, that he also got revenge on the Northern Irishman who had denied Scott victory in a two-shot turnaround on the final green at the 2013 Australian Open.

As for McIlroy, he ended his third event of 2020 heading up the staircase leading to the awe-inspiring clubhouse, with the walls adorned with a who’s who of Hollywood starlets, having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Once again, it was the shortest club in the 30-year’s bag robbing him a 19th PGA Tour win and a 28th triumph worldwide as it was putter that saw McIlroy post a triple-bogey ‘7’ at the par-4 fifth hole and then compound his despair in dropping at shot at the eighth.

At the fifth, the only hole over the three earlier rounds he had dropped a shot with a bogey on day two, he missed the green left but then landed his chip-shot short only for the ball to roll back to close to where he’d played his third.

McIlroy’s fourth was long before missing the hole with a 21-foot putt and then failing to hit the hole with both his fifth and sixth shots for his triple-bogey.

“Yeah, I caught it a little thin so it came out a bit lower than I wanted it to,” McIlroy recalled.

“There was actually like a little depression, sort of a hump and a little depression and then the hill up onto the green. I was trying to land it into this little depression and I got it a groove low and it kind of hit the first hill and then that really stopped it.

If it had carried that, it probably could have trundled its way up onto the green because I’ve played those shots well this week. I’ve bumped them into the fringes a little bit and, yeah, I’ve had a pretty good feel with those. I caught it a groove low and it just didn’t carry as far as I needed it do.”

The four-time major winner never regained the ascendency and made the turn at seven-under, sharing 12th place albeit just three shots from the lead.

McIlroy got the start that he wanted, despite his 305-yard opening tee shot high-up off on the opening tee just rolling off the ‘short stuff’ and from where he marginally missed the green but did manage to up-and-down for a birdie ‘4’.

That meant McIlroy had played the first in five-under for the tournament, having eagled the 18th ranked hole on day one and then managing to then post three straight birdies on subsequent days.

The four-time major winner then came within one full roll of his TaylorMade #22 ball falling for a birdie at the second before the disappointment of failing to hit the hole in missing his 11-foot birdie attempt at three.

Sadly, McIlroy never really challenged after his horrors on five and six before more disappointment in seeing a birdie putt at the short par-4 10th again slide by the hole.

McIlroy at last corrected the slide down the board in picking-up a birdie on 11 but he headed into his closing seven holes a mere spectator in Scott’s company dropping a further shot at 13 to fall back to a share of ninth before posting four no-frills pars and a far too late 72nd hole birdie

McIlroy’s only comfort is that he has now matched boyhood mentor, Nick Faldo as the equal third longest (with a combined 97 weeks) as World No. 1.

“It was definitely the toughest day of the week,” he said. “The wind was up,
hole locations were sort of in tricky spots, the course was firming up again. And yeah, you
know, for me anyway, one little sort of lapse on five there, made triple.

“Actually, apart from that, I played pretty well, played the other holes in 1 under. So it was tough. Yeah, honestly, I didn’t expect it to be as difficult as it was, but everyone was finding it tough out there.

“Adam held on well at the end. I was trying until the very end. I thought maybe if I
could birdie a couple of the last few coming in I might still have a chance. Yeah, Adam
played great, a couple really good up-and-downs and the birdie on 17 sort of sealed the deal for him.”

Tournament host, Tiger Woods posted easily his poorest four-round tally in 13 Riviera appearances.

Woods, whose prior highest 72-hole effort was three-under, slumped to finish last after weekend scores of 76 and 77 for an 11-over par tally having chosen not to contest this week’s WGC – Mexico Championship in Mexico City.

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