Rory McIlroy’s title chances thwarted early with costly short-game error

ory McIlroy’s bid for a statement victory came to an abrupt end Sunday at Riviera.

Tied for the lead early in the final round, the new world No. 1 caught a flier from the left rough on the par-4 fifth hole. Instead of landing his ball on the front third of the green, his second shot from 162 yards pitched about pin high and rolled off the back of the green, into a shaved collection area.

“Obviously not the place you want to leave yourself,” he said.

It was the mistake that cost McIlroy the tournament.

With little green to work with, he tried to bump his chip shot into the hill in front of him. But he caught the chip a groove low on the clubface, and his ball expired into the hill and rolled back toward him.

“If I had carried that (depression), it probably could have trundled its way onto the green because I’ve played those shots well this week,” he said. “I’ve had a pretty good feel with those. It just didn’t carry as far as I need it to.”

McIlroy tried to flop his next attempt from a tight lie, and his ball ran out 20 feet past the cup. That’s when he compounded his error – three-putting from there, including a miss from 3 feet. He carded a triple-bogey 7, putting him two off the lead.

McIlroy would never get closer, ultimately finishing in a tie for fifth, three shots behind Adam Scott, after making birdie on the 72nd hole.

Scott made a similar mistake on No. 5, walking off with double bogey, but he rebounded on the next hole and rolled in a 20-footer for birdie.