American Express – Rory McIlroy fails to catch fire once again at Torrey Pines
The old groundhog day feeling hit Rory McIlroy again, as the Northern Irishman – in touch and in contention heading into the final round of a tournament – saw another one slip away as he became just a bit character in the drama that unfolded in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.
McIlroy, without a win worldwide dating back to the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in November 2019, started the final day queried about an embedded drop late-on in his third round – where he legitimately got relief in the rough – but, three stokes Patrick Reed, who’d also incurred his own drop issues, starting out, there was no spark at all from the 31-year-old Northern Irishman.
The issue of those embedded balls hung like a dark cloud over the final round, although Reed – who has had more than his fair share of rules controversies – showed no ill effect, as he self-assuredly went about his business on the South Course like a man without a care in the world.
McIlroy struggled to a final round 73 for a total of six-under-par 282 that left him outside the top-15.
For McIlroy, the aim to get off to a fast start and get those ahead of him on the leaderboard, primarily Reed, thinking never materialised. “It’s a great opportunity to go out and be aggressive and make a good start and get myself right into the mix,” he had predicted. But McIlroy started with five straight pars before getting his first birdie at the sixth, where he rolled in a six-footer and then hit his tee-shot to the Par 3 eighth to 10 feet and claimed another, turning in 34.
But McIlroy’s forward momentum was halted with a bogey five on the 10th, where his approach missed the green, and then he ran up another bogey on the Par 5 13th where his drive plunged into a fairway bunker and he went from sand to rough to sand in working his way towards the green. There proved to be a brief respite, with a 15-footer for birdie on the 14th.
The Par 4 15th, though, saw McIlroy hit a brick wall: a wild drive into the waste area was followed by a recovery into thick rough with an approach to the fringe of the green and then three putts in running up a double-bogey six. McIlroy’s inward journey was a real trial, and, after putting his drive into the water hazard on the 17th, he showed resilience in salvaging a par with an approach to 15 feet and finally getting his putter to finish the task asked of it.
After his third round, McIlroy had admitted to “riding my luck a little bit at the minute,” and so it proved to be in a fourth round where his downward trending, on a course which later this year plays host to the US Open, saw him slip further and further away from Reed.
McIlroy’s busy early-season schedule, which has seen him play Abu Dhabi and Torrey Pines in the past two weeks, continues with a debut appearance in the Waste Management Phoenix Open where a limited number of spectators will be on-site.
Meanwhile, Francesco Molinari, the 2018 British Open champion and star performer for Europe at that year’s Ryder Cup, showed further evidence of his return to form. The Italian played only seven times in 2020, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and then made the decision to move his family to California.
Following on from a tied-eighth finish in the American Express (his first tournament outing since the Masters where he missed the cut), Molinari closed with a 66 for seven-under-par 281 to claim another top-10 finish.
Tag: American Express