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McIlroy’s New Ascent: One Step Forward, Two Back

For the longest time, it seemed Sunday at the Honda Classic would put the official stamp on Rory McIlroy’s return to form. Instead, in a plot twist that would make Hollywood smile on Oscar night, Russell Henley – back from his own walk in golf’s wilderness – won a tournament that McIlroy lost.
Nothing against Henley, whose emotion and aggressive style was a fresh reminder that he can really play, but this was about McIlroy’s failure.
With 12 holes to play in the final round, McIlroy led by three strokes and then – swoosh – it was gone.
When McIlroy tried to save it, when he forgot the sandy, fat iron shot from a fairway bunker that went to sleep with the catfish in the pond at No. 16 and hit a 246-yard fairway-wood shot to within 11 feet of a flag that appeared perched on a pier at No. 18, he reminded us of why he’s different.
It was statement time. But statements end in periods.
This ended with a question mark.
McIlroy missed the putt to win in regulation just like he missed multiple opportunities in the final nine holes to stanch the bleeding and close out his first PGA Tour victory in approximately 17 months.
McIlroy, golf’s once and perhaps future king, found himself in a playoff with two guys named Russell (Henley is the one who won, Knox is the one who didn’t) and Ryan Palmer, who will spend the next few nights thinking about the 4-footer he missed on the 72nd green that would have spared everyone the four-man playoff and clinched the biggest win of his career.


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