With Tiger Woods presumably on the sofa of his Florida home following his final-round withdrawal at the Honda Classic, Rory McIlroy had the opportunity to show he was now the man to be feared amongst golf's elite players. An opportunity he sadly failed to take. 

Having led overnight by two strokes ahead of young American Russell Henry, McIlroy's challenge began to falter at the seventh when he bogied the long par-three before following it up with another blemish on the ninth to reach the turn at one over for the day. 

It didn't get any better on the back nine for the Northern Irishman, either, as he dropped four further shots from the 12th to the 17th, including a double-bogey six on the par-four 16th following a horrible iron shot from the fairway bunker that found water down the right.

At that point, the infamous Bear Trap at Palm Beach Gardens had looked to have cost the two-time major winner the chance to secure his first win on the PGA Tour since his FedEx Cup playoff victory at The Barclays in 2012. 

A thumping drive later left him in the fairway at 18 with five wood in his hand, needing at least a birdie to secure a playoff place, or an unlikely eagle for that much sought-after victory. What followed was, well, a Tiger Woods moment. 

He flushed his five metal onto the middle of the green, leaving a mere 12-feet between him and the winners' circle he once occupied on a regular basis 18 months ago. It was an incredible golf shot, one you remember where you were when you saw it, one that had echoes of Phil Mickelson's stunning shot from the pines on that memorable Augusta evening. 

But, just like Mickelson, McIlroy missed the putt. A tap-in birdie secured his place in a four-way playoff between Henry, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox - but the chance to eagle the 18th to win The Honda Classic outright had gone, and with it yet another opportunity to announce himself as the next man to rival the achievements of his friend and mentor, Woods. 

It's of course nothing to lose sleep over, especially to a golfer with his talent. He's only 23 years old, he has two major championship wins already under his belt, and will win more, and more, and more as he delves further into his career. 

But with The Masters just 38 days away and the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral to come this week, McIlroy's missed putt on the last and subsequent failure to win the playoff shows that the golf world is no nearer to crowning a successor to 14-time major champion Woods.

The 38-year-old American will undoubtedly be the favourite at Augusta, or at the very least joint-favourite with McIlroy, if his back recovers from the spasms that forced him to withdraw for only the sixth time in his professional career. 

However, had McIlroy finished the job on Sunday evening, he would have undoubtedly been on his own at the top of bookies outright markets. 

If Sunday evening showed anything, it was that McIlroy is not yet ready to take Woods' place as golf's star man, even if Woods' body showed he may be vacating that spot sooner than everyone would like. 


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Topics:
Tiger Woods
Golf
Rory McIlroy