For the ninth time since the start of 2018, Rory McIlroy found himself in the final group going into the final round of a tournament. And for the ninth time, he failed to take advantage of that position.
The four-time major winner was paired with 2016 Ryder Cup teammate Matt Fitzpatrick in the final two-ball on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and though Fitzpatrick ended up finishing second behind an inspired Francesco Molinari, McIlroy endured the kind of Sunday to which he has become accustomed of late.
The 29-year-old carded a level-par 72 – the worst score of the top 14 players on the leaderboard – to finish in a four-way tie for sixth.
If he’s looking for a bright side this morning, it’s that this is his worst finish of 2019 so far, his previous four starts all yielding top-fives. With the Masters and another tilt at completing the career grand slam just weeks away, McIlroy has every right to feel encouraged by the state of his game.
Still, though. This Sunday thing is becoming a habit. A bad habit.
Not that he’s going to let it get to him, of course.
“I would much rather be putting myself in position to have a chance to win,” he said after his final round at Bay Hill. “I'm playing good golf. Yeah, my Sundays haven't been what I would have liked, but I'm putting myself in that position, so good golf is good golf. I keep saying that.
“I’m playing well. I'm getting myself into contention every week. Continue to do that, going into next week. That's the great thing about golf – you don't have to wait too long to get back on the horse.”
McIlroy will have another shot at claiming his first win of the season at this week's Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.