McIlroy romps to PGA Championship title
Kiawah Island, SC (Sports Network) - Rory McIlroy cruised to his second major title on Sunday when he won the PGA Championship in historic fashion at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
McIlroy shot a 6-under 66 and won by eight strokes to establish a new tournament record for largest margin of victory. He eclipsed the great Jack Nicklaus, who won the PGA by seven shots in 1980.
"It's a nice record to have. I don't care if I win by one, or by eight," said McIlroy. "It's a nice achievement."
McIlroy finished at 13-under 275.
The victory propelled McIlroy back to No. 1 in the world rankings.
David Lynn, an unheralded Englishman, shot a 68 on Sunday and finished second at minus-5.
Last year's winner Keegan Bradley (68), Justin Rose (66), Ian Poulter (69) and Carl Pettersson (72) tied for third at 4-under 284.
Tiger Woods didn't get anything going on Sunday. He shot an even-par 72 in the final round and tied for 11th at minus-2. Woods, who shared the second-round lead, failed to break par in all eight weekend rounds at this year's majors.
Woods was done in by poor play in Saturday's third round, which was stopped due to thunderstorms. He made three bogeys before the horn blew, then never got close after play resumed Sunday morning.
In a rare candid moment, Woods explained that he had the wrong mindset Saturday.
"I was trying to enjoy it, enjoy the process of it," said Woods, who also shared the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open, but faltered in the final two rounds. "But that's not how I play. I play full systems go, all out, intense, and that's how I won 14 of these things."
Woods does have 14 major titles, but none since the 2008 U.S. Open.
He won his second major at this event in 1999 at Medinah. Woods was 23 years and about seven months.
McIlroy just collected his second major trophy at 23 years, four months, which is the sixth-youngest in history.
"He went on that incredible run," said McIlroy. "I'd love to sit up here and tell you I'm going to do the same thing. Hopefully, there's a few more of these [trophies] in my closet when my career finishes."
He captured the 2011 U.S. Open after a heartbreaking loss at the Masters earlier that year when he imploded on the back nine.
"I learned a lot at the Masters," admitted McIlroy. "I learned so much about myself that day. It was a huge turning point in my career. You can see from Congressional last year and today here that I learned from that."
His victory at Congressional last year also came by eight shots. McIlroy matched that feat on Sunday and etched his name on The Wanamaker Trophy.
"I'd like to win like this all the time," joked McIlroy.
After he finished his third round Sunday and took a 3-shot lead into the final round, McIlroy was almost caught before he was introduced on the first tee.
McIlroy had to contend with Poulter's spectacular run to start the round. After Poulter drained a 15-foot birdie putt for his fifth straight birdie to open the round, he was just one back.
McIlroy poured in a 6-foot birdie putt at two, then followed with a 10-foot birdie putt at three and was three clear. Poulter chipped away at the lead with a 2-putt birdie at No. 7, but bogeyed the eighth, and when McIlroy birdied the par-5 seventh, he was four ahead.
Poulter made another run after the turn thanks to a pair of 7-foot birdie putts at 11 and 12. He was two back, but the wheels fell off for the Englishman.
Poulter bogeyed three in a row from the 13th and fell five back. McIlroy increased his cushion with a birdie at 12 and was six shots clear of Poulter and Pettersson.
When no one provided any great chase, McIlroy cruised some. He saved a few decent pars, then blasted out of the sand to six feet with his third at the par-5 16th. He converted the birdie effort and was seven in front.
McIlroy was now seven in front and brought the PGA Championship record book into the equation. Nicklaus owned the tournament record for largest margin of victory when he won by seven in 1980.
His chances at equaling the record appeared to take a hit when he missed the 17th green left. McIlroy chipped seven feet short, and, not surprisingly, rolled it right in the heart of the cup.
At the last, McIlroy hammered a drive down the fairway. He hit a 9-iron 18 feet short of the flagstick, then took the walk up to the green amidst chants of "Rory, Rory."
He delighted the crowd once more.
McIlroy sank the birdie putt to put an exclamation point on the victory and establish the new record for margin of victory.
He is now halfway to the career Grand Slam and to be in the winner's circle was almost comical after his tee ball at three Saturday morning.
The ball got stuck in a tree and McIlroy and his search party couldn't find it. A television producer informed McIlroy it was in the tree. He took a drop, wedged his third to six feet and saved par.
It may have been more comical that McIlroy was in this spot when you consider the middle part of his year.
After a blistering start to the year with a win at The Honda Classic, McIlroy missed the cut at The Players Championship and BMW PGA Championship. Those are the flagship events on both the PGA and European Tours, then he missed the weekend in his title defense at the U.S. Open.
There was talk that he was too into his celebrity. (McIlroy dates tennis great Caroline Wozniacki)
McIlroy admitted he might have gotten lax in his practice habits, but he said before this PGA that he found something last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for fifth.
"I was a little frustrated with how I was playing earlier this year," said McIlroy. "I did want to go out there and prove a few people wrong. It took me all of four weeks to get out of my mini-slump."
Blake Adams (67), Jamie Donaldson (70), Peter Hanson (71) and Steve Stricker (71) shared seventh at 3-under par.
NOTES: McIlroy pocketed $1.445 million for the victory...It was his fourth PGA Tour victory and fourth European Tour title...Phil Mickelson tied for 36th at 3-over par, but secured the eighth and final automatic spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team...The top eight remained the same from before the tournament...Now former world No. 1 Luke Donald fired a 6-under 66 and moved into a tie for 32nd at plus-2.
08/12 20:10:27 ET