|Rory McIlroy Completes a Record-Breaking Performance in the 94th PGA Championship|
|Rory McIlroy dominated the final round to capture the 94th PGA Championship, his second major title, by a record eight shots. The previous record of seven was set by Jack Nicklaus in 1980. McIlroy is the first from Northern Ireland to win both a PGA Championship and a U.S. Open.|
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Golf's bonafide superstar walks with a swagger, deftly sidesteps the hype as if it was a pesky mosquito, dons a red shirt on Sunday and has the game to match. Rory McIlroy had all the tools at his command in the 94th PGA Championship, registering a performance that will rank among legends who marched generations ahead.
McIlroy validated his record-setting U.S. Open Championship last year by blowing away the field Aug. 12, at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island. He closed in the style befitting golf's royalty by knocking home a birdie putt from 25 feet on the 18th hole for a 6-under-par 66, a 13-under-par 275 total. His eight-stroke victory broke the PGA Championship record for victory margin that Jack Nicklaus set in 1980.
The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, who jumped back to No. 1 in the world rankings, is the first from his homeland to win a PGA Championship and a U.S. Open. McIlroy also won the U.S. Open by eight strokes. He said that he had a premonition of positives upon his arrival on Kiawah Island.
"I turned up here on Monday afternoon, I went up to my locker," said McIlroy. "My locker was right by the window overlooking the putting green, the beach and the ocean. I was thinking to myself, ‘I just have a good feeling about this week.' And I said it to JP (Fitzgerald, his caddie), and I said it to my Dad and I said it to my whole team; something about this just feels right."
McIlroy became the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros to win two majors. Tiger Woods was about four months older than McIlroy when he won his second major. For the record, McIlroy is the fourth youngest PGA Champion.
Just as he did at Congressional Country Club in the 2011 U.S. Open, McIlroy separated himself from the field. He returned to the course Sunday morning to complete nine holes of a rain-delayed third round, offsetting a bogey at 13 with birdies at 15 and 16. His third-round 67 gave him a three-stroke lead. From that point, he went bogey free his final 23 holes. Nobody came closer than two strokes the remainder of the day.
McIlroy's nonpareil Sunday overshadowed another stunning effort among the rest of the field. Former No. 100-ranked David Lynn of England, 38, who made his American debut, closed with a 68 to finish runner-up.
Woods, who shared the 36-hole lead for the second time this year in a major, was never a serious factor. He couldn't get closer than four shots, closing with a 72, and failing to break par on the weekend in any of the four majors for the first time in his career.
What will likely be a signature salvation moment for McIlroy came early in the third round when he lodged his tee shot into a hollowed out branch of a former Live Oak tree on the third hole. He only found it with help from the TV crew, took his penalty shot and hit an approach to 6 feet to save par. Surviving a near disaster on the scorecard gave McIlroy momentum.
"It was a great round of golf. I'm speechless," said McIlroy after presented the Wanamaker Trophy. "It's just been incredible. I had a good feeling about it at the start. I never imagined to do this."
Winning the final major the year ends what had been a tumultuous season for McIlroy. Despite winning the Honda Classic in early March, he struggled by missing four cuts over five events.
But once on Kiawah Island, he was in a zone in dominating the strongest and deepest field in major championship history – 99 of the top 100 world ranked players, and 73 international players representing 22 countries.
"He's very good. We all know the talent he has," Woods said. "He went through a little spell this year, and I think that was good for him. We all go through those spells in our careers. He's got all the talent in the world to do what he's doing. And this is the way that Rory can play. When he gets it going, it's pretty impressive to watch."
Ian Poulter made the strongest bid to catch McIlroy, making six birdies through seven holes to climb within two shots. But, three straight holes on the back nine derailed his chance as he finished with a 69. He tied for third at 284, along with Justin Rose (66), defending champion Keegan Bradley (68), Carl Petterssen (72) and Blake Adams (67).
McIlroy shared the lead on Saturday afternoon with Vijay Singh after a rainstorm invaded the island and 26 players had to return to work early Sunday. Twenty-seven holes later, McIlroy had no peer in the Season's Final Major.
Poulter's final bid came with a birdie on the par-5 11th hole, trimming McIlroy's lead to two strokes. McIlroy then separated himself by saving par at 10 when he blasted from a sandy area near the green to within a foot of the hole. He added a 10-foot birdie on the 12th, before birdies at 16 and 18 produced the final margin.
McIlroy's victory snapped a streak in the last 16 major championships of 16 different winners. He joined Woods, Harrington and Mickelson as the only players to win majors in consecutive years over the last two decades.
During the traditional Champions Toast in the clubhouse, McIlroy picked up the copy of the Wanamaker Trophy, which already had his name inscribed on the silver band near the base. He gave it a long inspection, with a big smile on his face.
"It means an awful lot to look at the names on that trophy, and to put my name alongside them is very special," McIlroy said.
About The PGA of America