Some guys can’t win even when they win. The latest example is Rory McIlroy, who did in fact win the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational last weekend at Bay Hill.
Rory put on a clinic in the 4th round with an 8 under par 64, 3 strokes better than anyone else in the final round. He finished the tournament at 18 under par, 3 strokes better than runner up Bryson DeChambeau, and 8 strokes lower than Tiger Woods. Yeah, that guy. More on him in a minute.
There’s also the way Rory won. He birdied 8 of the final 13 holes, including 4 in a row on holes 13 through 16. When his approach on the par 4 15th rolled off the green, he chipped in for a 3. On the next hole, he smashed a driver 373 yards that looked like it would never land. He didn’t just keep it in the fairway – he went after pins, sank putts, and hit some hero shots along the way. It was damn near perfect.
So why aren’t we talking about him? Because, even when he wins, he doesn’t win.
First, Rory made comments post round on Saturday about the behavior of fans. "I think that they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more," said McIlroy. "I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves and whatever, and I'm all for that, but it's, sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy it can get a little much.”
Oh Rory. First rule of winning over the fans: don’t take away their booze. Instead, follow the lead of Tom Brady, who once advised fans to get “lubed up” before a game at Gillette Stadium.
Next, we heard NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller criticizing Rory for his physique on Saturday. As McIlroy was getting ready to hit his approach on 18, Miller said, “I think if he had never gone to a gym he would have played way better the last five years.” The fact that McIlroy hit the next shot 2 feet from the hole and drained the birdie putt hardly mattered. Miller was already putting it out there that Rory wasn’t doing it right, even if the results spoke differently.
Now, let’s talk about that guy who finished in a tie for 5th, Tiger Woods. He was in the hunt on Sunday, which got a ton of people to tune in for a second week in a row. And when he didn’t win, those same folks didn’t care who did.
Finally, Rory followed up his win on Sunday by dropping his first test at the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play, losing to U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein 2 and 1. Not exactly the victory lap he was looking for, and it gave fuel to the Rory critics who say that last weekend was a fluke.
He may have won, but he didn’t win again. Rory needs to show some more consistency before he can win, and also “win.”
That, and don’t threaten to take away anyone’s booze.
-- By Rob "Hardy" Poole, 98.5 The Sports Hub