Orlando: Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri ended a disappointing week with a horrendous card of six-over 78 to finish T-75 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Lahiri dropped six bogeys, a double bogey and two birdies in his final round to total nine-over 297.
Four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, made a back-nine charge like never before with five birdies in six closing holes to end a nearly 18-month winless period dating back to the day Arnold Palmer passed away on September 25, 2016.
Ironically, McIlroy's first win since came at the Arnold Palmer Invitational where he carded a final day 8-under 64 and won by three shots. I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him. But I'm so happy to put my name on that trophy," he said.
Much before McIllroy produced his fireworks, Tiger Woods was the man in focus, as he has been since his return at the Hero World Challenge in December 2017. There was a stage when Woods, clad in trademark Sunday red-shirt, made three birdies in a four-hole stretch to start the back nine and he was within a shot off the lead.
Then came the 16th, where his driver on the par-5 16th hole went far left and over a fence and out-of-bounds. It was a bogey when he desperately needed a birdie. It ended his momentum and he finished bogey-bogey-par for a 3-under 69 and tumbled down the leaderboard into a tie for fifth.
Just around then McIlroy began his charge and at that stage five players were separated by one shot. And then McIlroy ran away.
He made a 15-foot birdie putt on the 13th to take the lead over hard-luck Henrik Stenson, and then rolled one in from 20 feet on the next hole. To add to that McIlroy chipped in from 40 feet on the 15th hole, and then pounded a 375-yard drive on the 16th that set up a two-putt birdie.
Bryson DeChambeau chased hard and at 16th he came out of the rough and went over the water and found the green. His eagle putt caught just enough of the cup to drop in and he was only one behind.
But, McIlroy putted from about 25 feet above the hole on 18th to experience a feeling in a manner like Woods did in 2001, 2008 and 2009. McIlroy raised both arms in the air and turned to slam his fist as the crowds broke into a huge roar.
It gave McIlroy a two-shot lead and when DeChambeau needing to hole out from the fairway for eagle failed, McIlroy had won his 22nd title.
DeChambeau made bogey from the bunker on the 18th for a 68 and finished alone in second three shots behind.
Justin Rose (67) finished 14-under in third, and Henrik Stenson lost a third chance in four years to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He led by as many as two shots on the front nine before the putts stopped falling.
Two shots behind playing the 16th, Stenson three-putted for par and bogeyed the final hole for a 71. He finished fourth.
Woods tied for fifth with Ryan Moore (71), and now heads to the Masters with plenty of momentum and the only thing that is missing seems to be a win after his second place at Valspar.
While Woods will gun for fifth masters jacket, McIlroy will head to Augusta to try and complete a Career Slam and it would be sweet after an injury-plagued 2017 when he won no titles.
Updated Date: Mar 19, 2018 17:56:40 IST