So is it just the normal with PHP - there is more than one way to do it, rather a practically bad way?
There are a lot of ways to do things. The trick isn't so much that any one way is "wrong" for all cases as finding the one that best fits the needs of the job.
Sometimes you want to sacrifice for speed, other times it's all about code clarity. Sometimes you have to worry about memory footprint, or disk footprint, or how much CPU you're hogging.
For example, I might rag on double quotes, but how else does one in PHP get escape sequences like \r\n\t? It's not "never use double quotes" it's "don't use them for everything."
To Regex or not is another example. Some people will say that starting up the regex engine and its overhead is "bad", but that can lead to false assumptions compared to the alternatives. Regex is implemented via optimized C code that is well, WELL proven. The parsing of the regex string is highly efficient, as is how it's rules are done via assembly. As such it can often be faster than anything you could write in the INTERPRETED PHP language. It comes down to how complex the process you're trying to implement is.
It's far too easy -- and I catch myself doing this too -- to try and find "one way of doing things". The problem is that all these different ways exist for a reason, and to reject them outright for one pedantic "ideal" or another is short-sighted and foolish.
You can see this in the inefficiencies of things like Java's "Everything has to be an object". It takes a good idea to an extreme, and it actually hampers the code clarity and efficiency of the language. On the polar opposite side you have "functional programming" which is so knee deep in career educator pedantry and bald faced lies, that its adherents spend more time packing their own fudge than they do making useful code.
Its fanboys have actually convinced themselves that several dozen lines of callbacks and stack passing hell is more efficient than a simple one line "for" loop... all because of claims of "For loops" being a "bad way" of doing things.
It's a far too easy a pit to fall into. You'll get in your head a great sounding ideal, and it screws you over without you even realizing it. Quite often these "ideals" are highly popular, in fact I'd go so far as to say the more popular it is, the more likely it is to bend you over the table. Remember, popular doesn't necessarily make something good, or right, or just. See the crime against music that is Billie Eilish's Grammy, or all the nose-breathing idiots who pander to the first demagogue to cross their paths.