Tuesday 22 August 2017

Adam Scott reels in Rory McIlroy to win WGC-Cadillac Championship

Rory McIlroy was reeled in by the chasing pack at Doral
Rory McIlroy was reeled in by the chasing pack at Doral

Adam Scott produced an extraordinary fightback to win his second tournament in succession as Rory McIlroy squandered a four-shot lead in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Scott carded a closing 69 which which featured two double bogeys in the space of three holes, a shank and seven birdies to finish 12 under par at Doral, one shot ahead of double Masters champion Bubba Watson.

England's Danny Willett was a shot off the lead before driving into the water on the 18th, the resulting bogey dropping him into a share of third with McIlroy, who struggled to a 74 featuring just one birdie.

It was the first time McIlroy had failed to convert a lead of three shots or more after 54 holes since collapsing to a closing 80 in the 2011 Masters.

Starting the day three shots behind McIlroy, Scott closed the gap with a birdie on the first before seemingly falling out of contention by finding water on the third and fifth to run up a pair of double bogeys as the Blue Monster course lived up to its name.

However, the 35-year-old bounced back with birdies on the sixth and eighth and started the back nine with three more in succession, before another on the 14th took him into a two-shot lead.

Willett and then Watson closed to within a shot with birdies on the 16th and 17th respectively, while Scott amazingly shanked a bunker shot on the short par-four 16th but crucially scrambled a par.

Scott's approach to the 18th was then just a few feet from finding the water to the left of the green, but the former Masters champion hit a superb chip to six feet and holed out for a dramatic victory.

Asked how he had pulled off his 13th PGA Tour title, Scott told Sky Sports: " I don't really know. This is such a wild golf course in conditions like the wind was today.

"I made a couple of horrible errors on the front nine but you can't give up hope and I thought if I can get a couple (of birdies) before the turn, maybe a great back nine is good enough if things go my way and they did somehow. It was messy and my golf wasn't that pretty today either.

" Somehow I started feeling a bit like I did last week and the swing came under control, the rhythm came back and I started hitting iron shots close, almost so close you couldn't miss them which was nice."

Scott won the Masters in 2013 using a long putter and reached the top of the world rankings in May 2014, but has successfully reverted to a conventional club in order to comply with the ban on anchored strokes which came into effect on January 1.

" I have been working hard on my putting and couldn't ask for a better way to test myself, a six-footer to win a World Golf Championship event," he added.

" I can't believe I have won back to back weeks out here and to win a WGC is huge. Somehow I need to bottle this up and keep it another four or five weeks through the Masters and that would be amazing to get myself into contention there and have a chance."

McIlroy admitted he was frustrated to let another opportunity slip through his fingers having finished 20th in the Northern Trust Open a fortnight ago after sharing the lead with 16 holes to play.

"I didn't make enough birdies," McIlroy said. "I felt like my game was okay for the most part, but I didn't take advantage of the holes I should have. I couldn't birdie any of the par fives and that's really what killed me today.

"I'll take a lot of positives from this week. A lot of things didn't go right for me, but I need to just pick myself back up and get into contention again in Orlando in a couple weeks' time and let's see if I can get the win there.

"It's frustrating because it's two out of the last three weeks. I was leading the golf tournament with 16 holes to play in Riviera. I was leading the golf tournament here going into the back nine, and to not get the job done in either two of those instances is very frustrating.

"I've got two events left to try to get that win before going to Augusta and I'm hopefully going to get it."

Willett also took the positives from his performance, adding: " It is another good week. Being up there in contention on the back nine at a World Golf Championship is stepping in the right direction.

"I played pretty good golf for most of the week. It was a bit scrappy in there, but it was nice that when I played scrappy I dug in and kept rounds going. It's easy out there making a few bogeys to shoot four, five, six over par quite comfortably but I dug in every day.

"If someone had said 10 under par at the beginning of the week, I'd have taken it. It's a really tricky golf course, and the wind today obviously played its part more than any other day.

"You can look back and say you lost by two, but over the course of the week, I've got a lot out of the game, so I can't be too unhappy."

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