Rory McIlroy Has Happy Memories at Kiawah Island
Rory McIlroy will return to Kiawah Island with some great memories. This was where he landed his second major in 2012. And he did so in sensational style, winning by a record eight shots.
The Northern Irishman was 23 at the time and shot a final round of 66 to end the week on 13 under par. He was also the youngest player to win two majors since Spain's Seve Ballesteros achieved the feat in 1980.
And he became the youngest winner of the tournament since it became a strokeplay event in 1958, while his eight-shot victory was also a new PGA Championship record, beating the previous biggest winning margin set by Jack Nicklaus 32 years earlier.
The victory also saw him return to the top of the world rankings. In second place was unheralded Englishman David Lynn, who finished with a 68. Ian Poulter (69) faltered on the back nine to finish third on four under with Justin Rose, defending champion Keegan Bradley and Sweden's Carl Pettersson. Four-time winner Tiger Woods had a level-par 72 and finished on two under.
Much has been been made of McIlroy’s recent habit of producing at least one bad round in majors. This is nothing new. Back in 2012 he had a 75 in the second round at the Ocean course.
"I don't think it has sunk in yet - I am speechless," said McIlroy, the first Briton to claim the US PGA since Jim Barnes won the first two tournaments in 1916 and 1919 when it was a matchplay event.
"It was a great round of golf. The gameplan was just to play solid. I got off to a bit of a shaky start, but settled into it and I thought my putting today was phenomenal. Thanks dad and thanks mum - I'm sure she's watching at home. I had a good feeling at the start, but I never imagined doing this. It means an awful lot to look at the names on that trophy and put mine alongside them."
Lynn's second-place finish moved him to 16th on the European money list, with an outside chance of making Europe's Ryder Cup team. Ultimately, he would fail to make the team.
"I got myself into the zone on Saturday and I was feeling comfortable on Sunday - it is all a bit surreal at the moment," said the 38-year-old Stoke-based player, who finished 53rd in his only previous appearance in a major, the 2003 Open.
McIlroy's final day began earlier than scheduled as a result of Saturday's rain which brought a halt to several third rounds. Having recorded five birdies on the front nine the previous day, the man from Holywood added two more on the 15th and 16th to start the final round on seven under, a three-shot lead over second-placed Pettersson.
Pettersson's hopes of a first major suffered a huge blow on the first hole when he was handed a two-shot penalty "for moving a loose impediment in a hazard", when a leaf moved. Despite the setback, Pettersson had four birdies en route to four under for the tournament - his best major finish.
McIlroy was the only one of the top six not to drop a shot during his final round. When he did find himself in trouble - under the trees on the second, and in some rough on the 10th - he produced superb recovery shots.
His biggest challenge came from Poulter. He was outside the automatic Ryder Cup places going into the tournament and in need of a big week. Poulter reeled off five successive birdies and six in the first seven holes to close the gap to McIlroy to two.
However, his charge was halted on the back nine by three successive bogeys from the 13th which effectively ended his major bid for another year.
World number two Woods began the day five shots off the lead but his round never got going, the tone set with relatively easy missed birdie and eagle opportunities on the first and second holes. The 36-year-old, who opened with a three-under 69, completed his tournament with a 72.
Minutes later, McIlroy, who won the 2011 US Open by seven shots, knocked in a 25-foot putt on the 18th to seal victory with a sixth birdie of the round.
It was also the last tournament for the United States players to force their way into automatic selection for the Ryder Cup - and Bo Van Pelt's failure to finish second - he finished tied for 18th - ensured Phil Mickelson held on to the eighth and final automatic spot. He joined Woods, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar in the US team, with captain Davis Love III to name his four captain's picks later.
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