Rory McIlroy wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational
It's McIlroy's first tournament win since September 2016
Tiger Woods finishes in a tie for fifth place
With the Masters just around the corner, golf’s biggest hitters are flexing their muscles.
One week after Tiger Woods excited sport fans with his best showing since 2013, Rory McIlroy served notice of his return to form by surging to his first tournament win since September 2016 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
A stunning eight-under-par 64 ensured McIlroy finished three strokes clear of Bryson DeChambeau, with Woods ending the weekend 10 under in a tie for fifth.
It was some reversal in fortunes for McIlroy, who missed the cut at last week’s Valspar Championship.
“You’re never far away from producing golf like what I did today,” the four-time major winner told the PGA Tour’s official website.
“But on the flip side, I don’t think you’re ever far away from producing mediocre golf as well.”
The Northern Irishman needs a green jacket at Augusta to complete a career grand slam of golf’s four majors. His last major triumph came at the 2014 PGA Championship.
For Woods, it was another encouraging showing as he continues his comeback.
The 14-time major winner carded a three-under 69 Sunday, meaning 11 of his last 12 competitive rounds have been par or better.
After finishing tied for second at the Valspar Championship, the 42-year-old’s comeback from various back problems is going better than he could’ve hoped.
“If you (had told) me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments, I would have taken that in a heartbeat,” Woods told the PGA Tour.
The galleries are certainly enjoying his return, with the prospect of a fifth Masters triumph becoming more likely with every round he plays
“The fans gave me all the adrenaline in the world,” added Woods, who had previously won at Bay Hill eight times during his career.
“If I can play with no pain and I can feel like I can make golf swings; each tournament has gotten a little crisper.”
McIlroy, too, was well aware of the support for the player he idolized as a child.
“Tiger had just made birdie on 13 (to push to 12 under) and was on his way to 14 tee when a ‘Tiger’ chant started,” explained McIlroy.
“Then people around the green on 11 retaliated with a ‘Rory’ chant. It wasn’t quite as loud.”
No doubt the Augusta patrons will be cheering on both men when the Masters begins on April 5.
On Saturday, McIlroy had been critical of one fan who took things a step too far.
“There was one guy out there today who kept yelling my wife’s name,” McIlroy was reported to have said by the Orlando Sentinel.
“I was going to go over and have a chat with him. I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that.
“But sometimes, when the comments get personal and people become rowdy, it can get to be a little much.”