'It was a tough day' - Rory McIlroy's reaction after Franceso Molinari wins Arnold Palmer Invitational
Rory McIlroy's bid for a first tournament win of 2019 came up short after a disappointing final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, as Franceso Molinari secured a famous victory at Bay Hill.
McIlroy entered the final round just one shot off leader Matthew Fitzpatrick after a sparkling third round 64 left him on -8 for the tournament. However, the four-time Major champion struggled throughout his round to find top form, and ultimately came up short in his attempt to win the event for the second year in succession.
McIlroy got off to a strong start, making birdie at the third but a dropped shot came at the seventh following an errant tee shot at the par three. McIlroy posted just one further birdie, at the par 5 16th, and will look back with regret that he could only manage a par at the three other par 5s.
The Northern Irishman also bogeyed the 15th, to finish on -7 for the tournament, and +1 for this final round.
"My Sundays haven't been what I would have liked, but I'm putting myself in that position and I have to believe it will come," McIlroy said.
"It was a tough day, tough to get it close to the hole. I feel like I really didn't play that badly. I missed a couple of shots, but I felt like I was hitting good shots to 30 feet all day and it's hard to sort of shoot a score.
"I'm playing well, I'm getting myself into contention every week, (I need to) continue to do that, going into next week, that's the great thing about golf, you don't have to wait too long to get back on the horse,” he said.
"So I'm happy with everything, I just think today I could have played the par 5s better, but really apart from that it was an unbelievable round from Francesco to shoot what he did.
"I would have needed to go out there to shoot 67 to better him, which would have been one of the best scores of the day, and anything under 70 out there this afternoon was a great score.”
Molinari was a worthy winner, with the 2018 Open champion carding a sensational 64 to surge to victory.
The Italian capped his fantastic round with a lengthy birdie putt at 18, as he claimed his third PGA Tour win.
"I have to say it was probably the best putting round of my career," said Molinari. "I made some really good putts from the start.
"I don't know if I could have done a lot more than that to be honest."