Date: August 11, 2014

Grant Report – McIlroy Wins Second Major in Succession

Rory McIlroy closed in further on the greats of golf on Sunday when he clinched his second successive major with victory in the US PGA Championship in near darkness at Valhalla.

The Northern Irishman, who reclaimed the world No.1 spot with victory in last month’s British Open, stormed home over the closing nine to shoot a three under par 68 and beat American Phil Mickelson by one shot.

McIlroy produced an eagle at the 10th and a birdie at the 17th to finish 16 under the card. American Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson tied for third. He now becomes only the fourth player in the last century of golf to win four majors at 25 or younger. The others were Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones.

“I didn’t think in my wildest dreams I’d have a summer like this,” said McIlroy, who is only the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year. “I played the best golf of my life. I really gutted it out today."
Australian Jason Day had been competitive all week but was let down by a wayward putter. The Queenslander finished in a tie for 15th, seven shots off Rory McIlroy. The 26-year-old had twice held a share of the lead in the third round and was just one off the pace early in the final round. 

“If I could have got the putter going early obviously the confidence would have changed. I am a little frustrated right now,” Day said. “Right now it just doesn’t feel like anything is going to go in so it’s a bit of a mental thing.

“The speed isn’t quite there, the line isn’t quite there but then you mix that into the lack of confidence and it is tough.” Day said he would try to find his form on the practice greens before an assault on the US PGA tour playoffs.

But he admitted that with injury and a mediocre build-up he did not have high expectations. “My performance was a lot better than I have been playing in the last few weeks so there is some positives to take forward,” he said.

“I was co-leading yesterday and had a chance Sunday. “Right now I really just need to cool off and try to get my head around what I need to do to win one of these things.”

Adam Scott finished tied for 15th, blaming his ball striking. “I just didn’t play very good overall. I tried my hardest but I am a bit disappointed not to have played better,” Scott said. “You always want to play your best at a major and this time I didn’t.”

Fellow Australians Matt Jones and Geoff Ogilvy finished up their tournament with rounds of 71 to be one-under for the week, while Marc Leishman (69) posted his first under-par round to join his countrymen in a tie for 47th.

Because of a two-hour rain delay, darkness was falling quickly and it wasn’t certain McIlroy would be able to finish. He was allowed to tee off even before Mickelson and Rickie Fowler had reached their golf balls in the fairway. Both were only two shots behind and still in the game.

Fowler is the first player in history to finish in the top five at all four majors without winning but had his chances which went begging. McIlroy’s victory was his third in a row, following the British Open and World Golf Championship event last week at Firestone.

Drenched by 2.2 inches of rain in three days, Valhalla offered birdie chances while the back nine was packed with anticipation. Mickelson, Fowler and Stenson had reached the turn level at 14-under, with McIlroy having stumbled wtih two bogeys in the first six holes while Stenson fired five birdies and the Americans had four each.

Fowler holed a 28-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th to reclaim the lead alone at 15-under but McIlroy smashed his approach 274 yards to seven feet at the par-5 10th and sank the eagle putt, proceeding to victory as his rivals faltered.
   – By Robert Grant