Golf: McIlroy wins Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods finishes 8 shots behind

Rory McIlroy hit five birdies over his last six holes, including a nerve-wracking clutch 25-foot birdie at the 18th to clinch his first PGA Tour title since the 2016 Tour championships.
Rory McIlroy hit five birdies over his last six holes, including a nerve-wracking clutch 25-foot birdie at the 18th to clinch his first PGA Tour title since the 2016 Tour championships.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Rory McIlroy staged a spectacular back-nine charge to claim a three-shot victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday (March 18), collecting his first PGA Tour win since 2016 and putting himself among the red-hot favourites for next month's Masters.

Two behind overnight leader Henrik Stenson when the day began, McIlroy overhauled the Swede with a brilliant error-free final round eight-under 64.

The Northern Irishman hit five birdies over his last six holes, including a nerve-wracking clutch 25-foot birdie at the 18th to clinch his first PGA Tour title since the 2016 Tour championships.

"I kept saying the last few weeks, I wasn't that far away and it just takes something to click into place," said McIlroy in a greenside interview. "Something clicked into place with my game and obviously something clicked into place in my putting and this is the result.

"It's so nice to see everything come together finally."

McIlroy strung together four consistent subpar rounds for an 18-under 270 total and a three-shot victory over American Bryson DeChambeau (68).

Briton Justin Rose (67) finished alone in third on 274 while Stenson (71) faded to fourth on 275.

Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill, had a 69 to cap another solid comeback effort and a tie for fifth on 278.