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McIlroy satisfied before Masters


Rory McIlroy, pictured, was happy with his performance at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy, pictured, was happy with his performance at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy, pictured, was happy with his performance at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy expressed his satisfaction with his final competitive appearance before the Masters as Ryder Cup team-mate Henrik Stenson squandered a chance to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Stenson had seen his two-shot overnight lead turned into a two-shot deficit in the space of eight holes, but fought back to reclaim the outright lead with six holes to play.

The Ryder Cup star had played the final four holes in four under par on Friday and Saturday but three-putted the 15th for a bogey and did the same for par on the 16th after finding the green in two.

And American Matt Every took full advantage with a birdie from 15 feet on the 18th to complete a closing 66 and became the third player in the tournament's history to successfully defend the title.

Stenson was unhappy at being time for slow play on the back nine, telling reporters: "I'm obviously a little disappointed with the outcome. I'm as much disappointed with the PGA Tour officials for putting us on the clock on 15, starting to chase us down the stretch.

"It's busy enough trying to close out a golf tournament and to play the finishing holes without being on the clock. I did not see the reason for that really."

Every, who was four behind heading into the final round last year and three adrift of Stenson on Sunday, said: "Last year I just made everything but this year I was driving it really well and my irons were spot on.

"I kind of had a feeling. I was shaking some of those putts in but the one on 18, straight downhill, that's what you want when under pressure so that was nice."

Stenson had made the ideal start with birdies on the first and fourth but followed that with a three-putt bogey on the fifth and found himself two behind playing partner Morgan Hoffman, who b irdied five of the first eight holes.

However, bogeys on the ninth, 12th and 13th derailed Hoffmann's challenge and Stenson took advantage with birdies on the 11th and 12th to reclaim the outright lead, with Every having recovered from a bogey on the first with six birdies in the next 10 holes.

Every's closing birdie left him 19 under par and one ahead of Stenson, who closed with a 70, with Australian Matt Jones third on 17 under and Hoffmann two shots further back after driving out of bounds to double-bogey the 18th.

McIlroy began the day seven shots behind Stenson and despite briefly closing the gap to five with birdies on the fourth and sixth, bogeys on the ninth and 12th ended his chances of an unlikely win on his Bay Hill debut.

The world number one at least ended in style with birdies on the 16th and 18th for a closing round of 70 ahead of his bid to win a third major title in succession and complete the career grand slam at Augusta.

"I feel like I got what I wanted out of the week, four good competitive rounds," McIlroy told Sky Sports 4. "I saw some progress on some of the things I was working on last week. Still need to work on some things ahead of Augusta.

"It would have been nice to get into contention and feel what is was like to have a chance to win but I am happy with my progress and have another couple of weeks to work on some things and hopefully go to Augusta ready.

"I am excited going there with the opportunity to achieve three in a row, the career grand slam. It's a nice position to be in. I'm going to embrace it, try not to build it up too much. I know it's a big deal but hopefully I can get my game as good as I possibly can."

PA Media