KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Rory McIlroy dressed the part as golf’s next star and played like it, too.
Saving his bright red shirt for Sunday in the PGA Championship, McIlroy never gave anyone much of a chance. Two exquisite shots with the wedge set up back-to-back birdies to seize control of the final round. He never made a bogey over the final 23 holes of his marathon day.
McIlroy validated his eight-shot win at the U.S. Open last year by blowing away the field at Kiawah Island, making the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland 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.
I think I heard Tiger say, You can have a good season, but to make a good season a great season, you need a major championship,’ said McIlroy, who returned to No. 1 in the world. Now I’ve had two great seasons in a row no matter what happens from here in now. Hopefully, I can play some great golf from now until the end of the year and get myself ready for another great season next year, too.
Standing on the 18th tee with a seven-shot lead, McIlroy turned to caddie J.P. Fitzgerald and said, I’m going to win this one by eight as well.
McIlroy rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt, raising the putter in his left hand as the ball rolled true to the center of the cup, saving enough strength to lift the heavy Wanamaker Trophy after another command performance in a major championship.
He shattered the scoring record at the U.S. Open. He broke Jack Nicklaus’ record in the PGA Championship for margin of victory.
McIlroy took the lead for good Sunday morning with back-to-back birdies on the back nine to finish a rain-delayed third round at 67 for a three-shot lead. No one got closer than two shots at any point in the final round, and that last birdie gave McIlroy a 6-under 66.
David Lynn, a 38-year-old from England who was playing in America for the first time, closed with a 68 and was the runner-up.
Woods, who shared the 36-hole lead for the second time this year in a major, was never a serious factor. He tossed away his chances Saturday before the storm blew in and never could get closer than four shots. He closed with a 72, failing to break par on the weekend in any of the four majors for the first time in his career.
McIlroy was 13 shots better than Woods over the last two rounds.
It was a great round of golf. I’m speechless, McIlroy said after hoisting the 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 of the year ends what had been a tumultuous season for McIlroy. Despite winning the Honda Classic in early March and going to No. 1 for the first time in his career, he went into a tail spin by missing four cuts over five tournaments.
Instead, McIlroy put a big hurt on the strongest field of the year.
I was a little frustrated with how I was playing earlier on in the year, but a few people in this room were probably pushing panic buttons for no reason, McIlroy said. It’s just great to be able to put my name on another major championship trophy, and looking forward to April next year and getting a crack at another one.
Woods predicted greatness for McIlroy when he first came to America at 19.
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.
McIlroy finished on 13-under 275.
Ian Poulter, who started the final round six shots behind, made six birdies through seven holes to get within two shots. He made three straight bogeys on the back nine and had to settle for a 69. He tied for third at 4-under 284, along with Justin Rose (66) and defending champion Keegan Bradley (68).
The win ends a streak of the last 16 majors going to 16 different winners. McIlroy joined Woods, Harrington and Mickelson as the only players to win majors in consecutive years over the last two decades.