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Sunday 22 April 2018

McIlroy: I've missed that winning feeling

Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP

Rory McIlroy said he played a "perfect round of golf" after scooping his first victory in 18 months at the Arnold Palmer Invitational - and admitted he had missed the feeling of chasing a win.

The 28-year-old carded a majestic final round of 64 at Bay Hill, reeling off five birdies on the final six holes to finish on 18 under par.

It put him three shots ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, and ensured he will be among the leading contenders at next month's Masters.

McIlroy said: "I played a perfect round of golf. It was awesome to feel the buzz of being around the lead going into the back nine and reeling off those four birdies in a row.

"I've missed it, I really have, and to play the sort of golf that I played today under that pressure, I'm really proud of myself and just so happy to win."

A particularly impressive 18th hole saw McIlroy hole a putt from more than 25 feet.

Paying tribute to the tournament's namesake, he said: "To be able to create my own little piece of history on the 18th green here was pretty special.

"I'm just so happy to be back in the winner's circle again and win a tournament that has Arnold Palmer's name on it, someone that means so much to us in the game of golf."

McIlroy's last victory came in September 2016 when he won the FedEx Cup. There he had carded a final round of 64 - on the same day that Arnold Palmer died.

"He was always so nice to me - I've got so many letters from him. Hopefully he is proud of me with the way I played that back nine.

Tiger Woods was briefly in contention for the second successive Sunday after three birdies in the space of four holes immediately after the turn, but his challenge faded with bogeys at the 16th and 17th.

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