Sunday, March 18th, 2018


NBC Sports Group Notable Quotes
Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard (Final Round)
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, Orlando, Fla.
Sunday, March, 18, 2018

Rory McIlroy (18-under, winner) speaking with NBC Sports’ Steve Sands following his victory
Rory McIlroy – “I kept saying the last few weeks that I wasn’t that far away. And it just takes something just to click into place. Something clicked into place with my long game. Obviously something clicked into place with my putting as well. This is the result. So it’s just so nice to see everything come together finally.”

McIlroy – “I’ve seen Tiger make [the putt on 18] enough times to know what it does. So I just wanted to try and emulate that. Didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing it. But just to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special. I’m just really proud of myself to have hung in there over the past few months or you know, nearly a year with injury and everything else that’s happened. To get my first PGA TOUR win in –  I don’t know how long it is – it feels really nice.”

McIlroy – “It means a lot. The last time I won a PGA TOUR event was the day that Mr. Palmer passed away. So it’s a little bit ironic that I come here and win. But he set a great example to all us players to try and follow in his footsteps. And if everyone on TOUR could handle themselves the way Arnie did, the game of golf would be in a better place. He was a fine man. I’m very lucky to have spent time with him. He shared a birthday with my wife Erica, so we always talked about that. To be able to win his event – I wish I walked up that hill and got a handshake from him – but I’m so happy to put my name on that trophy.”

On McIlroy
Johnny Miller – “Everything came alive in his whole game. Everything. No. 1 in driving distance. Proximity to the hole. Scrambling. Strokes gained putting. Overall putting average and one-putt percentage. Anything else Rory?… Bottom line is Rory is back on track so watch out.”
Miller – “He’s got the bounce in his step… He’s been just fantastic putting this week – so different than what he’s done for the past year. No three-putts either… Maybe the best I’ve ever seen him putt.”
David Feherty – “What a finish. You almost get used to them here at Bay Hill.”
Dan Hicks – “On a day where we’ve been so wrapped up in Tiger’s comeback, this could mark the Rory comeback to his rise in the top of the world again… One of the greatest finishes we’ve ever seen at Bay Hill. Maybe the best.”
Miller – “He’s just on fire. It’s like almost what he was doing against Patrick Reed at Hazeltine at the Ryder Cup.”

On Bryson DeChambeau (15-under, 2nd)
Miller – “He’s got so much reserve power it seems. He’s got another 20 yards when he wants it… I wasn’t sure if he was ready for this stage or not. [I guess you] can’t win the NCAA and the U.S. Am and all the tournaments he’s won if you don’t know how to close.”

On Henrik Stenson (13-under, 4th)
Miller – “When you’ve got the lead, you cannot just sit pat on par with these guys on TOUR now. You’ve got to put the hammer down when it’s a green light.”
Gary Koch – “He had putted so well earlier in the week. It’s just tough on these final nine holes to get [putts] to go down when you want it too badly.”

Tiger Woods (10-under, T-5th) speaking with Sands following his round
Tiger Woods – “[On 16] if I hit driver I’ve got to fit it, I’ve got to cut it in there. And I was just in the back of my mind ‘why don’t you just bomb it over the top.’ It’s only like a 315-320[yard] carry. And I didn’t commit to it. I bailed out on it and hit a bad shot and that’s on me for not committing.”

Woods – “I felt pretty good out there. I hit the ball probably a little bit better than I did last week. This golf course affords the opportunity to go ahead and stretch it out a little bit. The greens were really smooth and really fast, and I felt like I really putted well this week. The entire week I hit a lot of good putts.”

Woods – “Even though I got up there [on the leaderboard], I just knew I needed to keep making birdies. Those guys had so many holes behind me where I just birdied the same holes. So if they make birdies on those holes, I’ve got to keep going. And you know I got to 16 and figured I’ve got to play the last three holes in 3-under to have a chance and probably force a playoff. And even that wouldn’t have been good enough the way Rory’s playing.”

On Woods
Notah Begay – “Through all the injuries and coming back from the surgeries one of the things that he was not able to do was put in any kind of long practice sessions with the putter. As soon as the pain was gone and he was able to build up his strength, he’s starting to put some more time in it. And it’s evident. We’re starting to see a lot of consistent putting from him over the last few weeks.”
Koch – “We’re starting to see some shots of the Tiger of old… We have seen some great examples.”
Miller – “He definitely is closing in on some victories.”

-NBC Sports Group-