Rory McIlroy was on a roll. Especially on the Bay Hill greens. And it propelled the Northern Irishman to his first PGA Tour victory since the 2016 Tour Championship.
McIlroy birdied five of the last six holes to post a final-round 64 and 18-under total that was good for a three-shot win over Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Justin Rose was third. Tiger Woods finished eight shots back in a tie for fifth.
“I kept saying the last few weeks that I wasn’t that far away,” McIlroy told NBC Sports’ Steve Sands. “And it just takes something just to click into place. Something clicked into place with my long game. Obviously something clicked into place with my putting as well. This is the result. So it’s just so nice to see everything come together finally.”
It was McIlroy’s first win at Palmer’s tournament, and he paid tribute to the golf legend.
“It means a lot,” McIlroy said. “The last time I won a PGA Tour event was the day that Mr. Palmer passed away. So it’s a little bit ironic that I come here and win. But he set a great example to all us players to try and follow in his footsteps. And if everyone on Tour could handle themselves the way Arnie did, the game of golf would be in a better place. He was a fine man…. I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him—but I’m so happy to put my name on that trophy.”
With the win, McIlroy moved back into the top 10 in the world rankings, jumping from 13th to 7th. It was also Rory’s first victory since signing with TaylorMade nearly a year ago.
As PGATOUR.COM reported, McIlroy made two equipment adjustments that were instrumental to his success at Bay Hill. A new Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft in his driver helped him average 316.5 off the tee, including the second-longest drive of the week that measured 373 yards.
The other was the putter, all too often a weak link in Rory’s game but which definitely made the biggest difference in Orlando.
“With only a few weeks to go before the Masters, McIlroy opted to overhaul the flat stick and go back to something familiar,” Jonathan Wall wrote at PGATOUR.COM. “Along with lengthening the putter to 34.24 inches, McIlroy returned to an Anser-style head shape with a slant neck and removed the firmer aluminum insert for a softer surlyn version.”
McIlroy has also been coached by former PGA Tour player Brad Faxon and decided this past week to worry less about alignment and instead focus more on his instincts and feel. It couldn’t have worked better at Bay Hill. Rory led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, on average besting the field by more than 2.5 strokes per round. And he only needed 100 putts for the week.
Rory McIlroy’s Clubs
(As reported by PGATOUR.COM)
Rory McIlroy uses TaylorMade equipment. Here’s a peek inside his winning bag at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Driver: TaylorMade M3 460 (8.5 degrees) with Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Pro Orange 70X shaft
3-Wood: TaylorMade M3 3 Wood (15 degrees) with Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Pro White 80X shaft
5-Wood: TaylorMade M3 5 Wood (19 degrees) with Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei CK Pro White 80X shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P750 (4-iron) with True Temper Project X 7.0 shaft; TaylorMade P730 “Rors Proto” (5-9) with True Temper Project X 7.0 shafts
Ball: TaylorMade TP5X (#22)
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