Honda Classic: 'Rory McIlroy's next victory is just around the corner'
Last Updated: 25/02/16 7:15am
Rory McIlroy is on the brink of bringing his 15-month winless run to a close, says Rob Lee.
McIlroy missed out on the Honda Classic as Russell Henley secured victory in a four-man play-off, the Northern Irishman paying the price after shooting a four-over-par final round in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
The 24-year-old began the day two shots clear of his American rival but unravelled before striking a sensational approach to the 18th hole that gave him a shot at the title he couldn't take.
McIlroy subsequently admitted that he didn't deserve to win the tournament and Lee commended him for speaking so honestly.
"You've got to love Rory for telling it how it is - there's no covering up or clouding over the issues and he feels that he didn't play the golf in the final round that he would have liked to have played.
"Having said that, it really does boil down to just one shot: the one he made his mistake on was his second to 16 from the left-hand fairway bunker. He tried to hit a quite fancy six iron draw shot when the squeeze left to right would have been better.
"But he went with the flair six iron and found the water. It was bad decision making. He got himself out of position in the tournament but then his second shot into the 18th was fantastic - he had a little peninsular of green to aim at and it was unhittable.
"But he hit a fairway wood into there to give him a chance for the eagle and the win; the shot he hit was 'world-class plus' given the pressure he was under after having a nightmare for 12 holes. He missed the putt and lost in the play-off, however, there were lots of positives for Rory.
"He could have won in Dubai, where he had a bad final round and he could have won here, where for him he had a bad final round.
"But compare this to a year ago, it seems that week-in, week-out Rory is in with a chance to win. He's putting himself, in his words, into position.
"That's all he's looking for, really; he's going to have his fair share of conversions as we go through the year so wins are around the corner. It might even be this week at Doral because he's one of the guys that can really bounce back really quickly.
"He's finished second here so it's not a disaster. What happened to Tiger is a disaster - he had a bad week and pulled out with a bad back, whereas Rory lost in a play-off and will move on."
With the Masters starting on April 10, Lee told Sky Sports News that Woods' withdrawal was most likely to be a precautionary measure to ensure he doesn't aggravate his lower back.
"Given that he's playing at venues that he's used to, Tiger would have liked to have had won once or at least really contended - that really hasn't happened. His golf isn't where he wants it to be and he's playing poorly for him.
"He was five-over par when he packed in at 13. He said he'd been having twinges on the range before he started and they continued through the round.
"Perhaps it's a protective thing to ensure that he doesn't damage it any further. But something in the back of my mind tells me that if he was in contention and leading by a shot, would he have carried on? The answer is probably 'yes'."