Rory McIlroy produced the shot of the year but his Honda Classic challenge in Florida will still be remembered as the flop of the season.
The former world number one led after round one, two and three at Palm Beach Gardens then collapsed spectacularly again on Sunday before losing a four man play-off to American rookie Russell Henley.
McIlroy’s status as overnight favourite looked certain to pay-off when he moved to 13 under early in his final round but once again he failed to seal the deal.
A double bogey at 16 proved costly as the Bear Trap at PGA National - Jack Nicklaus’s testing run of three holes - caught McIlroy out.
Another bogey at 17 dropped McIlroy off the lead and left him in need of a birdie at least on 18 to make the play-off.
A spectacular second, described by commentators as the shot of the year, carried the water and the bunker to present McIlroy with an eagle shot at the title, 20 feet from the pin.The putt trickled by on the right and McIlroy’s crowning moment was gone.
The birdie did get into a play-off with Henley, Scottish Youngster Russell Know and PGA veteran Ryan Palmer but McIlroy couldn’t reproduce the 18th hole magic second time around.
Instead it was Henley’s par that won the day for the American in a tournament that saw Tiger Woods withdraw after 13 holes due to a back spasm.
Champion here in 2012, McIlroy told pgatour.com: “I didn’t play well enough to deserve to win today. It’s very disappointing. It was a perfect opportunity to win. No one was really coming at me.
“There’s a few positives to take, but obviously it’s going to be hard to get over because I had a great chance to win my first tournament of the season and I didn’t.
“It’s tough to take at the minute but I’ll sleep it off tonight and get back at it.”
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