Date: June 20, 2011

McIlroy’s moment, Day second at US Open

Courtesy: USGA/Stuart Hall Northern Ireland&aposs Rory McIlroy put the finishing touches on an extraordinary US Open display, winning by 8 strokes at Congressional Country Club in Maryland. McIlroy shot 2-under-par 69 in Sunday&aposs final round on the Blue Course for a record-breaking 16-under-par 268 total. His score in relation to par is four better than Tiger Woods&apos 12-under at Pebble Beach in 2000, and his final total eclipsed the previous 72-hole low of 272 by four strokes. “There&aposs a lot of joy, and especially with this victory, there&aposs quite a bit of relief, as well. More joy, though,” McIlroy said. “I knew going out today that I was very comfortable. I knew most of the field was going to have a hard time to catch up to the score that I was on. Just very happy to win the U.S. Open and to win it in a bit of style, as well, is always nice.” The magnitude of McIlroy&aposs wire-to-wire victory overshadowed several noteworthy performances behind him. Most notable was Australian Jason Day, 23, runner-up in his second successive major. Day shot nine under on the weekend to finish at 8-under 276, eight strokes behind McIlroy. “Very excited that I finished second,” Day said. “I&aposm not going to go home and cry because I got whooped.” Tied for third at 6-under 278 were 2009 PGA champion Y.E. Yang (a final-round 71), world No. 2 Lee Westwood (70) and unlikely Americans Robert Garrigus (70) and Kevin Chappell (66), both of whom qualified for the championship. The undeniable story, though, was McIlroy. He began the week with a bogey-free 6-under 65 and for the week he totaled only three bogeys and one double bogey. He hit 62 of 72 greens in regulation, which is a record for as long as the USGA has been tracking such a statistic. Perhaps most important about the win is that McIlroy quells repeated references to his final-round Masters collapse – when he shot an 80 – and prompts speculation as to how many more majors he can win. At 22 years, 1 month, 15 days, McIlroy is the youngest U.S. Open champion since Bob Jones in 1923 (21 years, 3 months, 28 days) and the second-youngest player to win a major in the past 80 years. Tiger Woods was 10 months younger when he won the 1997 Masters. “I didn&apost have a chance to play with Tiger when he was in his real prime, but this guy is the best I&aposve ever seen, simple as that,” said Graeme McDowell, a fellow Northern Irishman whose reign as U.S. Open champion ended with a 2-under 282. “He&aposs great for golf. He&aposs a breath of fresh air for the game and perhaps we&aposre ready for golf&aposs next superstar, and maybe Rory is it.” McIlroy may be the one most surprised by his rapid ascension. “If you had asked me when I turned pro when I was 18, &aposDo you think you&aposd win a major by the time you&aposre 22?&apos I would have said no,” he said. “I would have liked to have been an established player on the European Tour, maybe a couple of wins. But to contend in the majors how I have so early, I don&apost really know what I can put it down to if it&aposs just hard work and practice, or if I feel like I just have a little bit more focus or intensity for major weeks.” “I&aposm surprised that I&aposve done it so early. It&aposs a great thing for me. I can always call myself a major champion now and I can go ahead and focus on trying to get some more.”