Rory McIlroy suffers another final round slump after tumbling out of contention at the RBC Heritage event
- Rory McIlroy had a chance of victory heading into Sunday’s final round
- But needing to gamble to make progress his day quickly unravelled
- He double-bogeyed the fourth before sliding out of contention
For the second Sunday running on the PGA Tour, it all went horribly wrong early on for Rory McIlroy, this time at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.
Just to compound another final round of misery, play was suspended mid-afternoon for inclement weather, with the Northern Irishman marooned among the back markers with four holes left.
The man who began the week by telling stayaway Europeans that they should have played in this event could have been forgiven for wishing he had stayed in Florida himself. Watching the 31-year-old this past fortnight has been a bit like watching Roger Federer tackle the clay surface at the French Open.
Rory McIlroy quickly slid out of contention for victory on the final day of the RBC Heritage
After seven top-five finishes in a row before lockdown, it was perhaps not surprising the Northern Irishman has assembled two modest results on short courses he would not have played under normal circumstances.
Expect a more customary service to resume at the Travelers Championship this week, at a venue where he can open his shoulders without feeling the need to steer his tee shots.
McIlroy still went into the final round of both events with a chance to win.
Just like last week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, however, it all went disastrously wrong quickly. Needing to gamble, it proved a losing hand from the moment he double-bogeyed the fourth.
On a Harbour Town course playing far easier than in its usual slot after the Masters in April, when a cold, devilish wind plays havoc, no player could afford such a mistake. McIlroy was one over for his round, and tied for 51st place when the horn blew.
Justin Rose (right) enjoyed a better day after moving up the order but his chance of victory also disappeared following the suspension in play
Like McIlroy, Justin Rose began with 27 players in front of him but swiftly moved upwards courtesy of an early eagle. He reached the turn in 32 shots to give himself a sniff of a chance.
When the suspension came, that chance had all but gone as he was still three off the pace with four holes to play.
Earlier, South African Dylan Frittelli had shown what was possible with a 62 to set the clubhouse target on 17 under. That was matched by world No 4 Justin Thomas, who had two holes remaining.
Tyrrell Hatton, seeking to become the first European golfer to win back-to-back regular PGA Tour events, was one of four players tied for the lead on 15 under going into the final round, with fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter and Matt Fitzpatrick two back.
Clearly, with so many players in with a chance, it was going to be a bunfight to the finish, with another low score required.
Bernhard Langer was invited to play to mark the 35th anniversary of him winning the event
Not too many players out early on the final day are thrilled to find themselves in that position, but remarkable German Bernhard Langer was entitled to a broad smile of satisfaction.
Now 62, he was invited to play to celebrate the 35th anniversary of him winning the event. On Friday, he became one of the few sexagenarians in tour history to make a halfway cut.
Naturally, he kept up the good work with a final-round 69 to finish above the likes of US Open champion Gary Woodland, last week’s runner-up Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth.
The tournament, of course, will be remembered mostly for the unfortunate Nick Watney becoming the first golfer to test positive for Covid-19. No one expected the game to remain coronavirus-free.But as the circus moves on to Connecticut for the Travelers event, the need for a quiet news week on that front is obvious.