Rory McIlroy joined an ultra exclusive club when he took out the British Open at Hoylake on Sunday.
The popular Northern Irishman joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to have won three majors by the age of 25.
In a furious final round, McIlroy, winner already of the US Open and the US PGA, beat off challenges from Spain’s Sergio Garcia and American Rickie Fowler.
With his triumph he becomes the first European to have won three majors and is now the second most successful British golfer of the modern era behind the six major titles won by Nick Faldo.
He closed with a 71 for a 17-under par total of 271, two strokes clear of Garcia who fired a 66 and Fowler who shot 67.
A further two strokes back were Australians Adam Scott (66) and Marc Leishman (65) whilst American Jim Furyk (65) finished in outright fourth at -13.
"It feels incredible. Today wasn’t easy, a few guys were making runs at me, I needed to stay focused and concentrate," McIlroy said.
"To win three legs of the four majors at 25 is a pretty good achievement, it is not going to sink in for a while."
It was a start to finish win from McIlroy, who is just the seventh player in Open history to to so.
He began the final day with a virtually unassailable six-stroke lead and birdied the first, but back-to-back bogeys at five and six saw his lead halved as Garcia emerged.
But a birdie at the 10th kept his cushion as he calmly strode through the back nine.
Victorian Leishman’s performance indicates he could now join Scott and the injury-hampered Jason Day as a regular contender in the world’s majors.
"Yeah, I’m really happy," Leishman said. "It’s a tournament I haven’t done well at in the past.
"I love this style of golf. I love links golf. But for some reason just hadn’t played any good so to get something down here, especially today…made it a really good week.
"Wherever it finishes, whether it’s third or fifth or eighth, who knows, it’s a good week for me," he said.
"I love the tougher golf courses and the majors are generally played on tough golf courses.
"I came close to the Masters a couple of years ago, played with Scotty, who won. And it was great to see exactly what you have to do.
"And then today to – well, I was too far back at the start of the day, but to at least have a run at it, and if he did something stupid I could have maybe given him a run for his money.
"But it does give me confidence going forward in the majors," Leishman said.
Scott said he virtually blew his chances earlier in the tournament but remained positive going into future majors.
"I’m disappointed. But you can get on the wrong side of the draw every now and then," Scott said.
"But I still feel like I probably could have done a better job of limiting the damage on Friday when it was pretty tough out there and I did by shooting one over.
"But I could have shot a few better than that. And then I could have done better yesterday on the front nine, as well. It was a slow start when everyone was really going gangbusters.
"That’s the way it is. Momentum is such a big thing. And I had a very stagnant 27 holes in the middle of a tournament. It’s tough to recover from."
"I’m motivated now. I’m a little annoyed that I’m leaving here playing well and not winning, but down to one major at the year it’s the last shot at it.
"I’m highly motivated to spend the next two weeks getting in the best possible shape I can to kind of do a Rory or a Martin (Kaymer) or Bubba Watson and run away with a major."
Jason Day will leave Royal Liverpool still no closer to finding the answer to links golf.
Day closed with a one-under 71 to finish at three over for the tournament.
The world No.6 had arrived at Hoylake confident of finally making his mark at the UK major, having never finished higher than tied 30th in four attempts.
However, Day says it’s back to the drawing board as he looks ahead to next year’s event at St Andrews.
"I’m kind of puzzled right now with kind of how to play true links golf," Day said.
"It’s a little disappointing, getting in here last Friday and preparing the best I could.
"I felt like I was kind of fighting with myself over my swing throughout the week. "I did all I could and the best I had was three over.
"I really don’t know what it is. I think it may just be one year when I go and play well and that could change it."
Day had been troubled by a left thumb injury in the lead-up to the event while he also felt some discomfort in his right wrist during the week.
The 26-year-old will take a few days off early next week but insists he’ll be fully fit for the World Golf Championship event in Akron, Ohio later this month.
Matt Jones tied for 54th with Day and John Senden sharing 58th at three over – all embarrassingly beaten by 64-year-old former five-times champion Tom Watson, who was one over par in a stellar performance.
By: Robert Grant