Rory McIlroy remains upbeat despite another near-miss this season at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
It was another difficult Sunday for Rory McIlroy at Bay Hill as the defending champion went from an early share of the lead to a tie for 6th place, his fifth consecutive event worldwide where he's finished inside the top six.
While his top-10 consistency is undoubtedly the best on Tour right now, his latest placing gives out a startling stat: McIlroy has now failed to win the last nine times he has played in the final group on Sunday (since the start of 2018).
During his most recent victory, which came at Bay Hill last year, McIlroy had begun the day two shots behind and needed to birdie five of his last six holes. This time however, he started one behind Matt Fitzpatrick and although he joined him at 9-under at the third, he failed to make the most of the par-fives and posted a level-par 72 to finish four shots behind Francesco Molinari.
Asked if he could take any positives from another missed opportunity or if he was feeling 'over' the moral victories, McIlroy was adamant that he was only acknowledging the good.
"No, not at all," said McIlroy. "I'm playing well, I'm getting myself into contention every week, continue to do that, going into next week, that's the great thing about golf, you don't have to wait too long to get back on the horse. So, no, I'm happy with everything, I just think today I could have played the par-5s better, but really apart from that it was an unbelievable round from Francesco to shoot what he did.
"I would have needed to go out there to shoot 67 to better him, which would have been one of the best scores of the day, and anything under 70 out there this afternoon was a great score. And as I said, if I took care of the par-5s a little better, it might have been a different story."
And the multiple major champion insisted he isn't dwelling on the negatives of his new playing in the final group record.
"It doesn't matter if you're final group, fifth group, it's golf at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter," he continued.
"I'm playing well, I would much rather be putting myself in position to have a chance to win. I'm playing good golf, it doesn't matter if I'm playing that golf on Thursday, Friday, Saturday -- yeah, my Sundays haven't been what I would have liked, but I'm putting myself in that position, so good golf is good golf, I keep saying that, at the end of the day."
McIlroy will next tee up at The Players Championship, March 14-17