McIlroy wins Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods finishes 8 shots behind

Rory McIlroy charges to Bay Hill victory

"Well I felt pretty good out there", Woods said after his round.

On fairways and greens fashioned by Palmer, the legendary player known as "The King", McIlroy bestowed a royal performance on his own with a 64 for a total of 270, 18-under-par, to win his first tournament since the 2016 Tour Championship, the final round of which was played on the day Palmer died. But an errant drive on the 16th - where he pulled it out-of-bounds, only the second player all week - ended his run up the leaderboard and a final hole birdie saw him finish with a 69 for 278, in fifth position. Before long, McIlroy was leaving everyone in his wake.

The Northern Irishman drained a 20-footer at the 14th, chipped in from off the next green and made a two-putt gain to move top of the leaderboard, before sealing victory with a 25-foot birdie at the last.

McIlroy buried the putt, raised both arms in the air and turned to slam his fist as the grandstands erupted with cheers. "I think that they need to limit 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". "I'm starting to piece it together tournament by tournament and each tournament's gotten a little crisper and a little bit better".

That gave him a two-shot lead, and he was a victor for the 22nd time worldwide when DeChambeau failed to hole out from the fairway for eagle.

Sweden's Stenson, the 2016 British Open champion, fired a one-under par 71 to stand on 12-under 204 after 54 holes at Bay Hill as American Bryson DeChambeau shot 72 to stand one stroke adrift. Justin Rose is also at -11. "Even that wouldn't be good enough the way Rory is playing back there". I thought I really putted well this week. But when he is making putts, he's incredibly hard to beat.

Update: Rory McIlroy has hit three birdies to tie Henrik Stenson at -13 through the front nine.

Rory McIlroy made eagle on No. 12 and birdied two of his last three holes and was two shots behind. His next stop is the Masters, which Woods has missed three times in the last four years and will be among the favorites at Augusta National for the first time in five years. "And so in the back of my mind I'm running through these different scenarios and it's on me, I didn't commit to either one of those three shots and I hit a poor one".

McIlroy's dramatics overshadowed another patented charge from Woods, who had put himself within one shot of the lead with four to play.

Still in the early stages of his comeback from spinal fusion surgery and years of back issues, Woods result offered more evidence that he is getting close to his old form coming on the heels of a runner-up finish last Sunday at the Valspar.

McIlroy was relieved for other reasons.

"To be in contention, if you would have asked me at the beginning of the year that I would have had a chance to win two golf tournaments, I would have taken that in a heartbeat", Woods said. He went through an injury-plagued 2017 and failed to win anywhere in the world. And now he's a victor again, with the Masters looming.



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