Rory McIlroy and the front nine at TPC Sawgrass don’t get along very well. In fact, McIlroy called it his “kryptonite” following his round on Saturday. But, in the final round, he recovered from an opening bogey to post a one-under on the first nine and then fired yet another stellar score — five-under 31 — on the back to shoot a six-under 66.
The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland reeled off three consecutive birdies to start the second nine and then closed with three more birdies in a row to finish on a high note on Sunday at The Players Championship. He carded a nine-under total for the tournament.
“I played the front nine better today,” he said. “I think that was what the key was. I obviously finished the round off well, I birdied the last three holes for the second day in a row, so I feel very comfortable on the back nine here; and just played the front nine a little better and it ended up in shooting a lower score.”
With his fine play, he also did quite a bit of moving up the leaderboard — all the way up to a tie for sixth, which equates to his best finish at TPC Sawgrass. Last year, McIlroy managed to finish tied for eighth.
As you may recall, Rory barely stuck around for the weekend. Following a front nine six-over 42 in the second round, it looked like he was going to have yet another early exit at The Players. However, he rallied to post a four-under 32 on the back to make the cut on the number. Which he’s actually done in each of his last three starts and he went on to post back-door top 10s in all of them (The Masters, the Wells Fargo Championship, and now The Players). It’s also his fourth top 10 in a row, with his tie for 7th at the Shell Houston Open.
“Overall, it’s been another solid week, another top 10 it looks like, another back door top 10 as I like to call them, but it’s getting close,” said McIlroy. “I’m playing really well, I’m playing solid. I equalled my lowest round ever here at Sawgrass today with a 66, so things are heading in the right direction.”
Naturally, all things considered, McIlroy was pleased with his finish.
“Any time you shoot 66 and you move up a lot of spots on the leaderboard, I think I was 120th at one point in this golf tournament on Friday afternoon,” he said. “So, to go from there to finishing in the top-10 is a good effort.”