"I don't want to say anything that I'm going to regret,” Rory McIlroy said after shooting 4-over 76 in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
McIlroy was frustrated because of how difficult Bay Hill was playing. He didn’t want to call the course setup unfair, but following another 76 on Sunday, he referred to it as “crazy golf.”
“I feel punch drunk, to be honest,” he said after completing his final round. “The weekend, it's like crazy golf. You just don't get rewarded for good shots. Like I'm venting here, and I'm frustrated and whatever. I think as well the frustration is, it's a carbon copy of what's happened the last three years here.”
McIlroy led after 18 holes this time around, opening in 65. He then shot 72-76-76 to tie for 13th.
In 2021, he went 66-71-72-76. In 2020, he went 66-73-73-76.
Many courses player tougher, to some degree, on the weekend, but McIlroy believes the Bay Hill crew is turning it up more than just a notch.
“I think it's just a golf-course setup issue and maybe just trying to make it a little less penal when you miss, I guess. Or not even less penal when you miss. I don't mind golf courses being penal when you miss, but it's not rewarding good shots. I think that's where it starts to get across the line,” he said.
McIlroy wasn’t alone in his exasperation.
“I'm glad I'm off that golf course. I'm glad I'm done,” said Gary Woodland, who finished eagle-double bogey-bogey to go from outright leader to T-5.
“We know the weekends are pretty brutal here,” said Tyrrell Hatton, the 2020 API champ, who shot one of only four rounds under par on Sunday to finish T-2.
“I think the greens get so quick sometimes, pin positions just seem brutal. And it's just, like I said, you have to play defensively and try your best to get the ball as close as you can.”
Added McIlroy: “They need to do something about it. There's a lot of guys that sort of stay away this week to get ready for next week.”
Upcoming is The Players Championship and its boosted $20-million purse. All of the aforementioned said they feel confident in their games, despite any weekend woes (Hatton shot 78 in Round 3, ahead of his closing 69). A major opportunity awaits at TPC Sawgrass.
There is little time to recover from the Bay Hill beating, but a little time is all that is needed.
“I just need a day off tomorrow to forget about what's happened this week,” said McIlroy, the 2019 Players champ, “and then just sort of focus on next week.”