Is Rory McIlroy running out of time to be ready for the Masters? After a three over 75 that featured three double bogeys and three trips to Bay Hill’s water hazards, he is a hopeless16 shots behind world No 3 Jason Day with a round to go in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Merely making the cut was McIlroy’s goal on Friday after the shock of his opening 75. But having appeared to cure the lefts on the range on Thursday night and shot a 67 on Friday that could have been a 63, he is now back in the dark again.
Bar the late addition of the Shell Houston Open to his schedule, this is McIlroy’s last strokeplay event before he tries to become just the sixth player in the modern history of the game to complete the career Grand Slam by winning the Masters.
The world No 2 has spoken about winning before Augusta National several times since the season began but he’s been nothing short of highly inconsistent since finishing third and sixth in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in January and February.
Rory McIlroy in 2016
He had chances to win heading into the final rounds in Los Angeles and Miami (he led by three there). But he produced poor final rounds each time to finish tied 20th and tied third in the Northern Trust Open and the WGC-Cadillac Championship respectively
In between he missed the cut in the Honda Classic and so has shot over par in six of his last 10 rounds, having broken par in 10 of the first 11 this year.
In other words he’s in one of those mini slumps he finds himself even at some stage every season only in this case, he has just Sunday’s final round with pencil in hand before he must put his matchplay hat on for next week’s defence of the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas.
With just 19 days to go before he tees off at Augusta National, McIlroy finds himself tied 64th on one over par.
World No 3 Day shot added a 70 to opening rounds of 66 and 65 and at 15 under par he’s two clear of the Swede Henrik Stenson and the American Kevin Chappell.
Having won four times in the last eight months, including his first major at the USPGA last August, Days knows what it takes to get over that line.
“At the BMW Championship [in Illinois in September], I shot 18-under the first two days, four-under the next two. Very boring, but I won,” Day said making four birdies and two bogeys.