The 17th at PGA National yesterday. Rory McIlroy got mangled by the Bear Trap as Graeme McDowell bounced back from early disaster in the third round of the Honda Classic.
The Holywood star (21) was two over par for the day and six over in total when he approach the daunting three-hole stretch that begins with the par-three 15th at PGA National’s Champion Course. Three holes later he was 11 over.
With a 30 mph wind whipping down from the north, the world No 8 found water off the tee and made a double bogey five at the 15th, followed double bogey six after hitting water with his approach to the 16th.
He then came up more than 15 yards short of dry land with a six iron at the 154-yard 17th, completing a damaging hat-trick of double bogeys.
“I couldn’t hit a five iron 150 yards,” he said. “As it turns out, I should have.”
McIlroy got up and down from behind the green for a par five at the last for a seven over 77 that left him tied for 65th on 11 over.
In contrast, McDowell battled back from an early triple bogey at the third, where he failed to execute a punch-cut and found water left, to card a level par 70 for a share of 30th place on four over par.
South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini posted a four under par 66 to lead the event by five shots from Korea’s YE Yang (67) and American Jerry Kelly (68) on nine under par.
World No 2 Lee Westwood, who needed to finish no worse than solo third to regain his No 1 ranking, bogeyed the last four holes for a 75 that relegated him to tied 30th on four over.
Looking for confidence ahead of next week’s WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral, McDowell birdied the first but then triple bogeyed the par-five third before playing the remaining holes in two under with a bogey at the 12th erased by birdies at the sixth, 11th and 18th.
McDowell said: “I hit the ball 75 percent better that I have all week. My ball striking hasn’t been there but I found something yesterday with my set up - I had been standing too close to the ball - and hit the ball a lot better today.”
Wincing when he heard of McIlroy’s troubles, McDowell said: “What’s it like going through the Bear Trap? The same as any other day - it’s horrendous….Hit two solid shots on 16 you shouldn’t be making big mistakes there but 15 and 17 are really tough golf shots and as hard as you see all year.
“I can’t think of any other par threes that make you feel like the 15th and 17th here apart from the 17th at Sawgrass with the wind across and the 12th at Augusta with the wind across. They are just tough.”