In Brief

Rory McIlroy ends victory wait - he’s now favourite for the Masters

The Northern Irishman will be going for a career major Grand Slam at Augusta

Ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational all the talk had been about Tiger Woods’s return to form. Yesterday, however, it was another former world No.1 who made all the headlines.

It had been 539 days since his last tournament victory, but Rory McIlroy returned to the winner’s circle with a superb final round at Bay Hill.

McIlroy carded a bogey-free eight-under 64 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational three shots ahead of the USA’s Bryson DeChambeau. England’s Justin Rose finished third, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson was fourth and Woods was tied for fifth.

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy said he played the “perfect round of golf” after hitting five birdies in the last six holes. After winning at Bay Hill he told Sky Sports: “It was awesome to feel the buzz of being somewhere around the lead going into the back nine and reeling off those four birdies in a row. 

“I played a perfect round of golf. I’ve missed it, I really have missed it, 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.”

McIlroy’s first tournament win in 18 months sets him up nicely for the first major of the season next month at the Masters. The four-time major champion has won the US Open (2011), The Open (2014) and the PGA Championship (2012 and 2014) but is still missing a Masters green jacket to complete a career Grand Slam.

He told the BBC last month that his putting is good enough to win at Augusta. The world No.7 said: “At Augusta you don’t need to putt great, you need to not waste any shots, no three putts, hole everything inside five feet. I feel good about Augusta, I know the golf course so well.”

After his win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy has been installed as the bookies’ favourite to win the Masters ahead of world No.1 Dustin Johnson and world No.105 Woods, who has another top-five finish on his comeback.

2018 Masters betting odds

Who will win the Masters? Here’s the best prices according to Oddschecker, as of 19 March.

  • Rory McIlroy: 9/1 
  • Dustin Johnson: 10/1 
  • Tiger Woods: 10/1 
  • Justin Thomas: 12/1 
  • Jordan Spieth: 14/1 
  • Justin Rose: 14/1 
  • Jason Day: 18/1 
  • Jon Rahm: 20/1 
  • Phil Mickelson: 20/1 
  • Rickie Fowler: 22/1 
  • Bubba Watson: 28/1
2018 Masters Tournament

The Masters is the first golf major of the season.

  • When: 5-8 April 
  • Where: Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia, US 
  • Par: 72
  • Defending champion: Sergio Garcia (Spain)
  • Website: masters.com

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