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When Rory McIlroy Ruled The World at Valhalla

By: | Mon 13 May 2024

When Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Valhalla in August 2014 it seemed certain that we were witnessing the start of a period of global domination from the Northern Irishman, who just a month earlier had also claimed The Open. If only we had known what was to come…

He saw off Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson with a brilliant display of golf, ending the week with a 68 and a one-shot victory on 16 under par.

With nine holes to play, he trailed Fowler by three but by the time he holed out for a birdie at the 17th in near-darkness he led by two.

"I didn’t think in my wildest dreams I would have a summer like this," said McIlroy after sealing victory.

"To win a fourth major here,I never thought I’d get this far at 25 years of age. It’s something that I’m just going to have to come to terms with. I was happy being a two-time major champion coming into this year, and all of a sudden I’m a four-time major champion."

McIlroy’s group drove from the 18th tee with Fowler and Mickelson standing aside up ahead; fading light had become a serious issue. McIlroy came close to sending his tee shot into a water hazard before firing shot two into a bunker. Mickelson almost holed his chip from the front of the green, which would have tied the leader’s score. McIlroy had to two-putt from 60 feet to win, and duly did so.

His second shot to the 10th, a three wood from 281 yards which set up a converted seven-foot eagle putt, was arguably the shot of the year.

By the 16th fairway, he was one in front. Up ahead, a Mickelson pitch had hit the hole before he missed the subsequent putt for par. Fowler, who had held such a commanding position, had suddenly started to wobble. On the penultimate hole, McIlroy found a bunker with his drive but hit the ball to 10 feet and slammed home the putt.

After McIlroy had played four holes, he was involved in a five-way tie for the lead. Fowler chipped in at the fifth to take the lead, Mickelson joined him on the seventh but only for seconds. Through six holes, McIlroy was two over par and struggling for inspiration.

Just when McIlroy’s race seemed run, he summoned up the spirit to fight again with a flawless back nine of 32.

An inch of rain fell on Valhalla within 45 minutes, prompting genuine fears that the championship would need a fifth day. The work of greens staff limited the delay to under two hours but there were complaints from players about the PGA of America’s refusal to allow preferred lies. 

McIlroy will return to Valhalla 10 years later carrying plenty of scar tissue but fresh from victory at Quail Hollow. Could this be the week he finally gets back on the horse? Watch this space…

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Tags: us pga rory mcilroy PGA Championship PGA

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