Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot way left on the par-4 15th on Sunday at Bay Hill, but that was not the one shot that he wishes he had back. Michael Reaves
Despite being six shots off the lead when making the turn Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy was in the lead by one shot while standing on Bay Hill’s par-3 14th tee box. He just didn’t know it.
McIlroy subsequently produced his worst swing of the day, one he desperately wishes he could have back. He hit the tee shot short and left of the green, the ball landing in a greenside bunker. He did well to get out and end 13 feet from the hole, but he two putted for bogey to drop back into a four-way tie for the lead with Jordan Spieth, Tyrrell Hatton and eventual winner Kurt Kitayama.
“If I look back on today the one thing I’ll rue is the tee shot on 14,” McIlroy said. “I birdied 13 and got on to 14 tee and I honestly thought I was still like one or two behind the lead. As I was walking to the 14th green, I looked behind me at the scoreboard, and I was leading by one. And if I had of known that, I wouldn’t have tried to play the shot that I played on 14, which was unfortunate, but I ended up making bogey there and then a bad swing off the tee on 15 and a bogey.
“So I had a chance at the last. I hit a good putt. It just missed on the low side. But it was a good week. I saw some positive signs. Game’s rounding into form for the bulk of the season.”
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On the par-5 15th, McIlroy hit his drive way left, but it found a tree and fell down into gnarly rough. He hacked out, but didn’t reach the green, failed to get up and down and made a second consecutive bogey.
McIlroy made seven birdies and five bogeys on the day to shoot two-under 70. He and Harris English tied for second place, one shot behind Kitayama.
“Even though I didn’t get the win, I’m still pretty happy with how everything went this week,” McIlroy said. “But it was a great back nine. It was great to be involved with. I’m really happy for Kurt. He’s been playing well for awhile now and I’m happy to see him get his first win.”