March 02, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- McIlroy began the day with a two-stroke lead before stumbling to a 74 and losing in a playoff. (Greenwood/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Rory McIlory considered himself fortunate just to be in a playoff at The Honda Classic on Sunday.
Given the way he played his final dozen holes, he was right.
McIlroy made four bogeys and a double bogey before a perfect 5-wood to 12 feet on the final hole set up a two-putt birdie to get him into a four-way playoff that was ultimately won with a birdie by Russell Henley.
"I didn't play well enough to deserve to win today," McIlroy said after his final-round 74. "It's very disappointing. It was a perfect opportunity to win. No one was really coming at me."
McIlroy just couldn't get out of his own way at times.
For the second straight day he tugged his tee shot left and missed the green on the par-3 seventh and failed to get up and down and made bogey.
Two holes later, he stumbled again, driving into the right fairway bunker before hitting his next shot into a greenside bunker, where he had a plugged lie and left his third in the sand.
McIlroy still had a share of the lead despite three-putting from 60 feet on the 12th, but lost it on the 16th when he found another fairway bunker off the tee and hit his next shot into the water. He made double bogey.
"I was sort of in control," McIlroy said. "There was a lot of holes out there where I was just trying to play these little hold‑up shots and I was just losing them left. Body was stopping and club was getting past my body.
"I'm just thinking, play those last few holes just solid, and 16 was what really cost me. I was trying to hit a 6‑iron right of the target. I let the wind bring it back and I just got a little underneath it and caught it a little heavy. In hindsight, I probably should have hit 5‑iron and tried to hold it up because I could have got more on top of it and would have taken that fat shot out of it."
Still, he had a chance to win, hitting a perfectly cut fairway wood to a tucked pin over water from 245 yards on the final hole to set up an eagle try.
McIlroy slid the putt by the low side of the hole and settled for birdie and a playoff, where he again hit fairway wood on his approach to the 18th hole but this time into the back bunker.
His pitch from the sand didn't spin and rolled through the green, and he stubbed his chip coming back before Russell Henley made birdie for the win.
Chances indeed, which was more than he could say a year ago here when he famously walked off the course in the middle of his second round, later citing mental fatigue.
McIlroy has come a long way since, winning in Australia late last year, nearly doing so again last month in Abu Dhabi and posting a handful of other good finishes along the way.
But this one will sting a little, too.
"There's a few positives to take, but obviously it's going to be hard to get over because I had a great chance to win my first tournament of the season and I didn't," McIlroy said. "Tough to take at the minute but I'll sleep it off tonight and get back at it."
McIlroy hits amazing approach on 72nd hole