Rory McIlroy at Honda Classic 2014: Daily Scores and Leaderboard Updates
After a rough 2013 season, Rory McIlroy is already looking to rebound from early disappointment following a loss at the Match Play Championship. In order to do that, he'll have to erase the memories of last year's Honda Classic ahead of the Masters.
Following a loss to Harris English at the Match Play Championship, McIlroy immediately turned his sights to this week's tournament.
It was a painful day of golf for the former world No. 1 player, but it doesn't get much easier when thinking back to last year's Honda Classic.
McIlroy came into the 2013 season with plenty of hope and intrigue after signing with Nike and winning the 2012 PGA Championship. Unfortunately, McIlroy walked off the course at seven over par, setting the stage for a year of meltdowns.
While McIlroy clearly hasn't forgotten about the unfortunate finish, he told Steve DiMeglio of USA Today that he has grown from the experience:
You should never walk off the golf course, no matter how bad things are. But it was just one of these days. I just felt like I couldn't cope with anything more, especially not the way I was heading. ... I was going to shoot 90. The last thing I needed. ...
... I've learned from it and I've moved on. It wasn't my finest hour, but at the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes.
The quicker McIlroy forgets last year's tournament, the better. With the Masters coming up on April 10, the field is noticeably stacked with several of golf's most notable stars on the course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
This will be the first tournament in which McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods will all compete against one another in 2014, as ESPN Stats & Info points out. The field also includes the likes of Adam Scott and many other top contenders from last season.
Want to prove this will be a bounce-back season? How about contending in that field ahead of the season's first major?
McIlroy will get that chance when he takes to the course this weekend in Florida.
*All stats courtesy of PGATour.com.
Leading for much of the final day, Rory McIlroy choked away the Honda Classic with another trademark meltdown. A double-bogey on 16 and bogey on 17 saw him drop down the leaderboard. A birdie on 18 got him into a playoff with Russell Henley, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox.
Henley would birdie, while McIlroy, Palmer and Knox settled for par on the one-hole playoff.
Here's how the top 10 of the Honda Classic shook out.
|5||Billy Hurley III||-7||69|
This has become a bit of a trend for McIlroy. He's beginning to enter Greg Norman territory when it comes to closing out a tournament. You wonder if he has some sort of mental block that leads him to struggle down the stretch on the final day. And this won't help matters, either.
At least McIlroy remained composed as he analyzed his fourth-round performance. He said, "I didn't play well enough to deserve to win today," per Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com.
Of course, McIlroy is still only 24 years old. He's got decades of great golf left, and maybe he'll solve this problem, look back at these times and reflect on the fact that they made him a better golfer.
Rory McIlroy continued his dominant tournament in Palm Beach on Saturday with a one-under 69 to give him a two-shot lead heading into the final round.
Here is how the field stacked up after Round 3:
For a complete list of scores, visit the PGA Tour's official site.
McIlroy started his day off in strong fashion with birdies on two of his first three holes, but tapered off on the back nine with bogeys on the sixth and seventh holes—with the latter marred by a horrific penalty drop.
His sporadic day was perfectly encapsulated by his performance on the 17th hole, where he did well after the tee to score a birdie on the par-3. Instead, he whiffed on the approach and had to settle to break even once more.
The good news is, McIlroy is now in a position to win his first PGA Tour showing since the 2012 BMW Championship at Kiawah. As Randall Mell of Golfchannel.com pointed out on Twitter, McIlroy is dominant with a lead such as this.
Another 54-hole lead has the look of a win for McIlroy. His ability to finish off the field on the final day will once again firmly place him in the company of the sport's elite.
Rory McIlroy backed up his tournament-leading 63 in the opening round with a four-under 66 in the second round to maintain his lead in the Honda Classic. He led by four strokes when he walked off the PGA National course.
Starting on the back nine, McIlroy's day got off to an inauspicious start. He carded bogeys on two of the first three holes and actually fell out of the lead. He returned to form from that point forward, however, posting six birdies and no dropped shots the rest of the way.
Here's how the leaderboard shapes up as of 1:05 p.m. ET:
|T-3||Brendon de Jonge||-7|
|T-8||Five players tied||-5|
For a complete list of scores, visit the PGA Tour's official site.
The first two rounds of the Honda Classic are the most promising sign yet that McIlroy is ready to return to an elite level on a regular basis.
Last season, he had some very good rounds but could rarely back them up. It seemed like that trend would continue at tricky PGA National. The fact he was basically able to push the reset button and get back on track was a great sign, both for this week and moving forward.
The biggest difference has been his ball striking. When he's in top form, he can play any shot into the green and leave it within a few feet of his target. That's slowly but surely starting to come back, which is bad news for everybody else on tour.
That was on full display during his run of three straight birdies during the second half of his round, and he did it on every type of hole. The par-five third, par-four fourth and par-three fifth all resulted in birdie tries he converted, moving him to three under for the round.
He added another birdie on the seventh before parring out for a 66. It was a round that easily could have got away from him early. Instead, he recovered for a solid score.
Looking ahead, it's unclear how the leaderboard will shape up following the afternoon wave of golfers. McIlroy should still be on the lead or pretty close heading into the weekend, though.
If he keeps striking the ball as well as he has over the first two rounds and hits a high percentage of his short and medium range putts, he should be firmly in the mix on Sunday.
A win would do wonders for his confidence as major season approaches.
The first round of play for McIlroy looked much more like his vintage game from back in 2012 when he won the Honda Classic.
With a seven-under 63 to wrap up Round 1 at Palm Beach Gardens, McIlroy is off to a fantastic start and in contention after Day 1 of the tournament.
Though he missed out on a few shots that could have separated him from the pack, McIlroy didn't miss many opportunities en route to the top of the leaderboard and is well in position to contend for another title in Florida.
Here's a look at the leaderboard and a full recap of McIlroy's day at PGA National.
|7=||Brendon de Jonge||-4||66|
Full leaderboard can be viewed at PGATour.com.
Coming out onto the course, McIlroy looked more like a prize fighter feeling out the greens than the befuddled player he was at the Match Play Championship or even last year's Honda Classic.
Before he teed off at PGA National, McIlroy spoke about his confidence coming in and the comfort he felt on the course, per Bob Harig of ESPN.com.
"It's so much different this year. I'm much more comfortable," McIlroy said. "I'm in a better place, and I feel like my game is in a good place, and everything else can sort of fall in line with that."
That turned out to be true for McIlroy, as he shot out of the gate with birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 before hitting for par the rest of the way through the front nine.
The Northern Irish player was much more in control of his game through the first nine holes. Rather than having to take several long putts to save par, McIlroy put the ball close to the flag on several occasions and came away with a clean card.
As if two birdies through three holes on the front nine wasn't good enough, McIlroy outdid himself in the back nine with birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes—including a 45-foot putt on No. 11.
That torching start through the first 12 holes put him in a tie for first and showed just how much he has turned his game around since last season, as Stephanie Wei of Sports Illustrated notes.
Not even the notorious "Bear Trap" on No. 14 was a match for McIlroy, as he came inches away from another birdie but settled for an effortless par to keep a tie for the lead.
After getting off to another fantastic start on the back nine, McIlroy topped off the round with two birdies on the final par-three 17th and par-five 18th. The final birdie gave McIlroy a 63, which marked the lowest round he's put together since 2010, according to PGA Tour Media.
McIlroy's masterful opening round sets up what could be a turnaround weekend for the Irish golfer heading into the first major tournament of the year.
With three rounds still remaining, McIlroy has a great shot to take home the top prize if he can keep the stellar play up. But with a loaded field aiming to dethrone the 24-year-old player, there is plenty of intrigue moving forward at the PGA National course.
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