Tuesday 17 July 2018

'It was awesome' - Rory McIlroy's final round of 64 secures sensational win at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy holds the championship trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Rory McIlroy holds the championship trophy after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Rory McIlroy sinls a sensational final putt at the 18th hole to wrap up victory (@PGATour)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Rory McIlroy returned to winning ways as a sensational final round of 64 secure him a stunning victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

McIlroy went into the final day needing a big charge to trim the lead held by Henrik Stenson and he produced a magnificent back nine that saw him made five birdies in his final six holes.

A stunning long putt on the 18th hole produced an extravagant reaction from McIlroy (below) and he was beaming as he summed up his first win of in 18 months.

McIlroy will be bidding to complete a career grand slam at The Masters next month and the Irishman ensured he will be among the leading contenders after a majestic final round of 64 at Bay Hill.

The 28-year-old was particularly imperious over the back nine, in which he nervelessly recorded five birdies in his final six holes to finish on 18 under par for a three-shot victory over Bryson DeChambeau.

He arguably saved his best for last, holing a putt from more than 25 feet on the 18th before raising his arms aloft.

The last time McIlroy reigned supreme was at the Tour Championship on September 25, 2016 - the same day Arnold Palmer died - and he returned to winning ways at the resort once owned by the golfing great.

Tiger Woods was briefly in contention for the second successive Sunday after three birdies in the space of four holes immediately after the turn, but his challenge faded with bogeys at the 16th and 17th, and he finished in a share of fifth.

"I played a perfect round of golf. It was awesome to feel the buzz of being somewhere around the lead going into the back nine and reeling off those birdies in a row," said McIlroy.

"I've missed it, I really have missed it, and to play the sort of golf that I played today under that pressure, I'm really proud of myself and just so happy to win.

"It's ironic to think that the last time I won was when Arnie passed away. To be able to create my own little piece of history on the 18th green here was pretty special.

"I'm just so happy to be back in the winner's circle again and win a tournament that has Arnold Palmer's name on it, someone that means so much to us in the game of golf."

For the second Sunday in succession Woods, playing just his fifth PGA Tour event since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, was in contention.

He finished in a tie for second in last week's Valspar Championship, just one shot behind winner Paul Casey, and three birdies in the space of four holes here showed that was not a flash in the pan.

However, hopes that he would secure his first victory since August 2013 were dented when he went out of bounds off the tee on the par-five 16th.

That left the 42-year-old needing to hole from more than 25 feet to save par, which he was unable to do, and he slipped three adrift of the lead with two holes remaining.

His bid was ended when he also bogeyed the 17th after finding a greenside bunker with his tee shot.

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