Rory McIlroy birdied five of his last six holes en route to a final-round 64 and a three-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. McIlroy's run distanced him from a star-studded leaderboard that included 54-hole leader Henrik Stenson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose and Tiger Woods. Full scores
Rory's recipe was prodigeous drives, towering long-irons and a red-hot putter. McIlroy entered the tournament following a missed cut at the Valspar and with the highest world ranking (13th) since 2009. Before the event, McIlroy spent some time with former PGA Tour star Brad Faxon, who gave him a new mental approach to putting. It paid off. McIlroy gained 10 shots on the greens at Bay Hill, the best in the field and of his career. His performance springs hope that McIlroy will complete his quest for the career grand slam in Augusta in 18 days. McIlroy's win moved him up to the third best odds at 10 to 1 behind only Tiger and Dustin Johnson.
With an eagle on the 16th hole, Bryson DeChambeau cut his deficit to McIlroy to one shot for a moment. McIlroy then holed another putt on 18. DeChambeau failed to birdie the 17th and headed to the 18th needing an eagle two to force a playoff. DeChambeau closed with a bogey but recorded his highest finish since last year's win at the John Deere Classic.
El gato grande
Tiger made a run on Sunday and entered the short par-5 16th one shot off the lead. He set up for a fade and hit a pull hook (double-cross) out of bounds, ending his chances at the title. Nonetheless, Tiger wrapped up his Masters prep with another strong finish, a t5th, his third straight top-15 finish.
The question mark remains the driver. On the week, Woods finished 19th in strokes gained: approach, 2nd around the green, 8th putting and 71st off the tee. While Augusta is friendly off the tee, he has to drive it at an average level to have a real shot of winning.
Big game hunters galore
As alluded to in Wednesday's preview, Bay Hill is one of the few courses on Tour that forces players to hit a fair share of mid- and long-irons. The result is a stacked leaderboard like we saw Sunday. Bomb and gouge isn't rewarded at the Dick Wilson/Arnold Palmer track, and the Tour's most talented players tend to shine. The Tour needs more golf courses that force the world's best to use every weapon in their bag.
After Saturday's round, Rory McIlroy suggested the Tour take a look at fan behavior and drinking.
Justin Rose (3rd) notched his 13th worldwide top 10 in his last fifteen starts...hello Augusta.
54-hole leader Henrik Stenson earned his best finish of 2018 (4th) and will opt to skip this week's WGC Match Play for the second consecutive year.
Former Florida star and European Tour rookie Sam Horsfield notched a t14th in his first PGA Tour start of the year.
Both amateurs, Doc Redman and Collin Morikawa, made the cut.
The latest podcast
Last week, I was joined by a few of the brightest young stars in the superintendent industry. Shoreacres' Brian Palmer, Glen View Club's Brian Moore, Bob O' Link's Scott Pavalko and fellow golf nerd Jason Way joined for the first ever live podcast at Oak Park C.C.. We discussed their careers, working with architects, restoring Golden Age courses and much more. Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or the website.
Campus Update with Will Knights
After a poor showing in their last event, Vanderbilt came out strong at the Schenkel Invitational. The Commodores cruised to an 8-shot victory and finished the tournament at -29. Theo Humphrey (Vanderbilt) earned his first victory of the season and has started the spring with three top-8 finishes. Will Gordon also had a strong showing for Vanderbilt, finishing T-5. This is Vanderbilt’s second win of the spring.
Following up on last week’s newsletter, Collin Morikawa (Cal) and Doc Redman (Clemson) both made the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This is the second straight week that an NCAA player made a PGA Tour cut after Dylan Meyer did so at the Valspar Championship.
In Bee Park wins the Founders Cup.
Patrick Reed asks an official if he would get a different drop if his name was Jordan.
Couple articles you might have missed
Check out the profile on the first professional architect Harry Colt.
Last week's On the Skillet on the Cal Club's short par 4 5th.
The detailed review of Moraine C.C., possibly Ohio's best course.