For several years, Rory McIlroy did not enter the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Resort & Lodge.
But when he finally did play in 2015, McIlroy immediately formed a bond with the tournament host and fellow U.S. Open champion – McIlroy won in 2011 and Palmer in 1960.
Three years after his first Bay Hill start, the 28-year-old now owns a trophy from The King’s tournament, accomplishing the feat with a back-nine charge that would have made Palmer oh so proud.
While most of the roars in Sunday’s final round were for 14-time major champion Tiger Woods, who owns eight victories at Bay Hill and has shown glimpses of his dominating past over the last month, it was McIlroy who stole the show on Sunday. He fired an 8-under-par 64, which included birdies on five of his last six holes, for a three-stroke victory over 2015 U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau.
Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion, faded from contention after consecutive bogeys on 16 and 17 and tied for fifth. He was coming off a runner-up showing in last week’s Valspar Championship and a tie for 12th in The Honda Classic.
It was McIlroy’s first win since the 2016 Tour Championship, which ended on the same day (Sept. 25) that Palmer died at the age of 87.