Arnold Palmer Invitational: Rory McIlroy plummets from contention

Rory McIlroy did not have his best stuff on Bay Hill’s front nine Sunday.

It was evident early on, too, as McIlroy missed the green with his approach shots at the first and second holes.

He managed to get up-and-down on both occasions, remaining at 5-under par for the championship through two. But his struggles began to affect his score at the par-4 3rd.

McIlroy missed the green once again, hitting his second shot to the right rough beside the putting surface. He then raced his chip shot 12 feet past the hole and missed the comebacker for par, dropping his first shot of the day.

Another inexplicable bogey came at the par-5 4th, one of the easiest holes on the course. McIlroy’s drive came to rest on the bank of a small stream within the penalty area, forcing him to take an awkward stance and chip out sideways.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer Invitational

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the opening hole during the final round of the 2024 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Two holes later, at the tricky par-5 6th that bends around the lake, McIlroy duck-hooked his second shot into the water.

That led to a double-bogey seven, and suddenly, McIlroy was 4-over through six holes, having dropped 24 spots on the leaderboard.

His slide continued two holes later at the challenging par-4 8th.

After finding the fairway, McIlroy pulled his second shot left of the green, which is protected by a large pond in front. Although he cleared the water, McIlroy flubbed his chip shot and left his third shot 18 feet short of the pin.

He consequently made another bogey, dropping to even par for the tournament.

His approach shots are a big reason why McIlroy has struggled during the final round thus far. He has lost more than four strokes with his approaches on Sunday, ranking 57th in the field. On top of that, McIlroy hit only two of nine greens in regulation on the opening nine.

No wonder he carded a 5-over 41 on the opening nine, completely dropping him out of contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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