McIlroy on Players win: All those close calls paid off

A Players Championship outcome that became anyone’s guess in a frenetic dash to the finish line at the TPC Sawgrass on Sunday finally was won by Rory McIlroy, generally the likeliest of candidates to do so.

McIlroy had finished no worse than a tie for sixth in five previous starts this year, though he failed to win any of them, and often stumbled on Sunday. On this Sunday, he closed with a two-under par 70 to win by one.

“I think it was all those experiences that I had starting the year,” McIlroy said, explaining his first victory in a year. “Good chance in Hawaii, a good chance in L.A., chance in Mexico, last week [at the Arnold Palmer Invitational].

“I think it’s a culmination of getting those experiences, and I felt more and more comfortable each time. I almost liked today because it was tough. I knew guys weren’t going to get away from us.”

McIlroy, down the stretch, outplayed all who made a charge on a difficult day, with rain early, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

First up was Eddie Pepperell of England, who holed a 50-foot birdie putt from the wrong side of the island green at the 17th hole, then saved par at 18 to finish at 14-under par, the target number.

Then Jhonattan Vegas holed a 70-foot birdie putt at 17, the longest putt made there in the history of the tournament, and parred 18 to join Pepperell at 14-under.

Up next was Jim Furyk, 48-years-old, the last man to play his way into the field, who birdied 16, hit it stiff at 18 for another birdie, and closed at 15-under par, the new leader in the clubhouse.

Ultimately, it was McIlroy, consistently the best player in 2019, who overcame a shaky start that included a double-bogey on the fourth hole. McIlroy made four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine to take a one-stroke lead, and followed with pars on the treacherous 17th and 18th holes to secure the 15th victory of his PGA Tour career.

Jon Rahm, who began the final round with a one-stroke lead, struggled all day, shot a 76 and tied for 12th. Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the final pairing with Rahm, shot a 73 and tied for fifth.

Source : The Golf Channel

posted at 18 Mar 2019 06:41:08



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