PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA (AP) — Jon Rahm was back on his feet nearly immediately.
Rory McIlroy was still angry nearly 48 hours later.
The two superstars appeared to have completely different perspectives on what happened over the weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was won by Scottie Scheffler but was defined more by the course conditions, which a vocal few deemed to be excessive.
McIlroy admitted to “complaining” after another weekend 76 put him out of the top 10, adding that things needed to change in the future or players would start skipping the event to prepare for the $20 million Players Championship.
“You wouldn’t understand in a manner unless you were out on the golf course,” McIlroy said of his post-round displeasure on Tuesday. “Look, everyone was in the same boat. That is something I completely understand. When I walked in there on Sunday afternoon, there were a lot of alcoholic beverages being consumed in the locker area, so it wasn’t just me having a bad time.”
McIlroy, the first-round leader at Bay Hill, finished the week with a pair of 76s. Over the last few years, he’s had a similar trend of late fades.
Following that setback, McIlroy said he didn’t touch his clubs on Monday, “just sort of leaving them alone for a day,” and used the day as a mental-health day. He worked out briefly at TPC Sawgrass but largely rested and regrouped.
“I think Mondays between tournaments can be essential to just sort of flip the switch and recharge,” he added, “and then you wake up on Tuesday morning feeling a little bit better about everything and you get after it again.”
Rahm was making his Bay Hill debut and had no idea what to anticipate, other than the fact that the course gets progressively more difficult over the weekend, to the point where it may veer into “crazy golf,” as McIlroy put it at the time.
Still, within an hour of finishing, Rahm said he’d “completely forgotten” about a final-round 74 – which isn’t unusual, especially now that he’s a father. Rahm, like McIlroy, said Monday was a travel day, and he was more concerned about how his son would handle the two-and-a-half-hour drive than about how he had performed the day before.
After some thought, he was asked whether he had any difficulties with the setup.
Not in the least.
“The golf course setup is what it is,” he stated, later adding, “but I’d rather play at Bay Hill every week of the year than play on a golf course that only tests you with putting.”
After all, it was Rahm who memorably referred to the American Express setup as a “piece of s—t f——-g setup.” Week of the putting competition.”
“If it were up to me, we’d see more of it [Bay Hill setup] every week instead of a setup with no rough and trying to shoot 25 under,” he remarked.
The good news is that McIlroy and Rahm should be able to find a happy medium at TPC Sawgrass, where the winning score in the last two March tournaments has been 15 under par.
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