McIlroy the Magnificent has arrived
Rory McIlroy has won his first US title in sensational style, firing a record breaking 62 that has left the golfing world stunned.
Rory McIlroy announced his arrival in big time golf in the US in glittering lights on Sunday by winning his first title with the most sensational exhibition of golf ever seen at Quail Hollow.
Indeed, so impactful was his astonishing final round, he had the huge gallery at the 18th hole cheering for him as if he was a newly discovered American hero as he walked to the green.
The 20-year-old magician left the golfing world stunned, the chasing, in-form Phil Mickelson included, when he nailed a 43-foot monster putt on the unforgiving 18th green to claim the coveted Quail Hollow Championship with a course-record 62 , to win by four shots from Mickelson, the reigning Masters champion, after starting the day four shots off the pace – and become the youngest winner on the US PGA Tour since Tiger Woods in 1996.
The likeable native of Holywood in Northern Ireland, who turns 21 on Tuesday, could do no wrong on a magnificent day that finally lifted the curtain on his enormous talents.
McIlroy began the day four shots off the lead, held then by Billy Mayfair, but caught fire midway through his opening nine holes.
After going to the turn in 32, including a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh, McIlroy stormed clear of the field with a brilliant run of birdie-eagle-birdie from the 14th.
The 20-year-old went for the green on the reachable par-four 14th, his tee shot coming up right of the green in a bunker. From there he splashed out to 10ft and holed for a birdie, his sixth of the day.
The best was yet to come however, McIlroy hitting a stunning approach from 207 yards to within four feet of the flag on the par-five 15th to set up a simple eagle.
And the former Walker Cup star followed that with a mid-iron from a fairway bunker on the 16th to four feet for yet another birdie and, at that stage, a four-shot lead over Masters champion Mickelson.
He made par on the 17th and then capped a stunning day’s work with the long,long putt on the 18th for a birdie.
McIlroy had missed the cut in his last two events in America, including the Masters at Augusta following rounds of 74 and 77.
And he was not in strong position on Friday night at one over par before a stunning turnaround, completing the weekend at 16 under par.
“I suppose I just got in the zone,” McIlroy said on Sky Sports 3. “I didn’t realise I was going eight, nine, 10 under par. I just knew I’d got my nose in front, I was just trying to stay there.
“Ever since I was 10 or 11 I wanted to be a professional golfer and you know it’s been a crazy ride to this point. I’m just delighted to get here and get my first win of the year and to do it on a golf course like this is an amazing feeling.
“I’m going to have a bit of a party on Tuesday night down in Sawgrass. If I was back home and had a win like this I’d be having a good one tonight.”
Mickelson made a birdie on the 18th to pip Angel Cabrera for second place, having seen any fading hopes of catching McIlroy die with a bogey on the 17th, his second of the round.
Cabrera, who had a share of the lead with McIlroy at the midway point of the round, was the victim of his own poor putting, as he missed five putts from less than eight feet on the last eight holes.
Zimbabwe’s Brendon de Jonge had the second best round of the day, a six-under-par 66, to take fourth place on nine under par.
Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who waited to give hearty congratulations to McIlroy on the 18th, signed for a 68 that left him in a four-way tie for seventh at six under par.
The most disappointed man at the end was no doubt Mayfair, who began the day at the top of the leaderboard, but had two double bogeys and three bogeys as he slipped all the way down to a tie for 14th place.
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