Rory McIlroy ‘rues’ aggressive tee shot Sunday after realizing he was leading
To look at the leaderboard, or not to look at the leaderboard: that is the question.
Rory McIlroy stepped on to the 14th tee thinking he was a shot or two back of the lead and needed to be aggressive with his tee shot at the par 3. He wasn’t, and he didn’t.
The Northern Irishman actually had a one-shot lead as he played the 14th. Everyone around him on the leaderboard had faltered, allowing him to vault up said board much more quickly than he anticipated.
McIlroy left his tee shot well short on the 190-yard hole, bunkering himself left of the green to a back-left pin. He was unable to get up and down from there, making bogey and ultimately finishing one shot back of champion Kurt Kitayama.
“If I look back on today the one thing I’ll rue is the tee shot on 14,” McIlroy said after his round. “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 known that, I wouldn’t have tried to play the shot that I played on 14, which was unfortunate.”
The four-time major champion would add another bogey at the 15th before making birdie at the par-5 16th.
McIlroy had a chance to reach the eventual winning score of 9 under, but watched as his 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th missed.
“I hit a good putt. It just missed on the low side. But it was a good week,” McIlroy said. “I saw some positive signs. Game’s rounding into form for the bulk of the season.”
After a T-32 at the WM Phoenix Open and a T-29 at the Genesis Invitational, the third-ranked player in the world was encouraged by his play despite falling just short.
“It’s getting better,” McIlroy said when speaking about his game. “I feel like I figured out the driver a little bit more this week. Yeah, it’s getting there. I think still a couple little things to tidy up and try to get more comfortable with. But, yeah, I mean with Players, Match Play, and then the Masters, so two tournaments between now and then and plenty of time to feel a bit more comfortable with where everything is.”