Monday, May 03, 2010

Rory McIlroy celebrates his famous victory. Image from the US PGA Tourwebsite, by courtesy of Halleran/Getty Images.

Rory McIlroy claims first US

PGA Tour title after record 62

By Marvin Collins
Rory McIlroy set a new course record en route to winning the Quail Hollow Championship, his first US PGA Tour title, as he became the youngest winner on the Tour since Tiger Woods in 1996.
The "Boy from Belfast," who turns 21 on Tuesday, enjoyed a blistering round, capped by a 43-foot birdie putt on the 18th, to sign for a 62 and win by four shots from Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy began the day four shots off the lead, held then by Billy Mayfair, but caught fire midway through his opening nine holes.
After going to the turn in 32, including a hat-trick of birdies from the seventh, McIlroy stormed clear of the field with a brilliant run of birdie-eagle-birdie from the 14th. The 20-year-old went for the green on the reachable par-four 14th, his tee shot coming up right of the green in a bunker. From there he splashed out to ten feet and holed for a birdie, his sixth of the day.
The best was yet to come however, McIlroy hitting a stunning approach from 207 yards to within four feet of the flag on the par-five 15th to set up a simple eagle. And the former Walker Cup star followed that with a mid-iron from a fairway bunker on the 16th to four feet for yet another birdie and, at that stage, a four-shot lead over Masters champion Mickelson.
He made par on the 17th and then capped a stunning day with the long putt on the 18th for a birdie.
McIlroy had missed the cut in his last two events in America, including the Masters at Augusta following rounds of 74 and 77. And he was not in strong position on Friday at one-over par before a stunning turnaround, completing the weekend at 16-under par.
"I suppose I just got in the zone," McIlroy said. "I didn't realise I was going eight, nine, ten-under par. I just knew I'd got my nose in front, I was just trying to stay there.
"Ever since I was 10 or 11 years old, I wanted to be a professional golfer and you know it's been a crazy ride to this point. I'm just delighted to get here and get my first win of the year and to do it on a golf course like this is an amazing feeling. I'm going to have a bit of a party on Tuesday night down in Sawgrass. If I was back home and had a win like this I'd be having a good one tonight."
Mickelson made a birdie on the 18th to pip Angel Cabrera for second place, having seen any fading hopes of catching McIlroy die with a bogey on the 17th, his second of the round. Cabrera was the victim of his own poor putting, as he missed five putts from less than eight feet on the last eight holes.
Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge had the second best round of the day, a six-under-par 66, to take fourth place on nine-under par.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who waited to give hearty congratulations to McIlroy on the 18th, signed for a 68 that left him in a four-way tie for seventh at six under par.
The most disappointed man at the end was no doubt Mayfair, who began the day at the top of the leaderboard, but had two double bogeys and three bogeys as he slipped all the way down to a tie for 14th place.
So how good was McIlroy's final round of 62? Well, Camilo Villegas, the rising Colombian star took 18 shots more than Rory to get round on Sunday - 80!
+The full article above appears in The Scotsman newspaper today.

McIlroy's a marvel: He made the cut on Friday with an eagle!


By Staff and Wire Reports
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina. Rory McIlroy considers it his most important shot of the year, one that ultimately led to victory Sunday in the Quail Hollow Championship and made him the youngest US PGA Tour winner since Tiger Woods.
It wasn't the 5-iron up the steep hill on the 15th that settled 3 feet away for eagle. Nor was it the 7-iron out of the bunker on the 16th hole that was so good he didn't even bother to watch it land 5 feet from the cup.
The shot wasn't even on Sunday.
The 20-year-old from Northern Ireland was on the verge of missing his third cut in a row. He was two shots over the cut line with three holes to play late Friday afternoon when he fearlessly hit a 4-iron from 206 yards into the breeze and right over the water to 6 feet for an eagle. He made the cut on the number.
"The rest," he said with his engaging smile, "is history."
Was it ever.
McIlroy shot the lowest round each of the last two days at Quail Hollow, and the final round was nothing short of spectacular. Playing the final five holes in 5 under -- and finishing with six 3s on his card -- he set the course record with a 10-under 62 for a four-shot victory over Masters champion Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy finished in style, rolling in a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole and thrusting his fist in the air, his freckled face bursting with joy as thousands of fans leapt from their chairs around the green.
"I suppose I got into the zone," said McIlroy, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Tuesday. "I hadn't realized I was going in 9, 10 under. I just know I got my nose in front and I was just trying to stay there."
Woods was 20 years and 10 months when he won his first US Tour event in Las Vegas in 1996.
With this win, Rory McIlroy:

• Earned $1,170,000 and 500 FedExCup points

• Moved into 25th in FedExCup standings

• Is 817 points behind leader Ernie Els
McIlroy's win capped a big Sunday for two of golf's brightest young stars. Earlier in the day, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa became the first player on a major tour to shoot 58 in winning on the Japan Golf Tour.
McIlroy delivered an awesome display of skill that left two-time major champion Angel Cabrera in his wake and put Mickelson too far behind to catch up.
With a one-shot lead, McIlroy hit a 5-iron into 3 feet for eagle on the 15th, followed with a birdie from the fairway bunker on the 16th, then nearly holed a 55-foot birdie across the green on the par-3 17th. The finish was sheer magic, a 40-foot putt that poured into the center of the cup and set off a big celebration.
"The last two days, it seemed as if everything had just gone right," said McIlroy, who will move to No. 9 in the world ranking. "You get yourself into sort of a mindset like that, and you just keep going. It's just been a great day."
He finished at 15-under 273 and won $1.17 million.
And so ended a week with record scoring, good and bad. Woods left on Friday, missing the cut for only the sixth time with the highest 36-hole score (153) of his career. McIlroy finished out the week with a 62, breaking by two the course record at Quail Hollow.
Mickelson was in the hunt until he had to play a right-handed shot from the woods on the 10th hole and made bogey. When the world's No 1 left-hander got around to making a charge, McIlroy already was too far ahead. Mickelson closed with a 68, which he figured would be good enough to win.
The roars he heard ahead of him told him otherwise.
"I've got to congratulate Rory," Mickelson said. "He played some incredible golf. He's an amazing talent. You knew he was going to come out and win out here. He is some kind of player."
Cabrera was tied for the lead with eight holes to play until his putter failed him. The former Masters and U.S. Open champion missed five putts inside 10 feet on the back nine and shot 68.
Billy Mayfair, who had a two-shot lead going into the final round, lost the lead by hitting into the water on the par-5 seventh for a double bogey and closed with a 76.
McIlroy becomes the first player since Chris Couch at New Orleans in 2006 to make the cut on the number (the limit mark) and win the tournament, and it all started with that eagle on Friday.
"Most important shot of the year, to be honest," McIlroy said. "If I don't make eagle there, I'm practising at Ponte Vedra this weekend, not playing here. I said after the 66 yesterday, 'That could have been the turning point in my season.' I think today I've confirmed that."
Fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington closed with a 68 and hung around for two hours to congratulate the kid when he finished. He was growing concerned for McIlroy, who was under enormous pressure since turning pro when he was 18.
McIlroy added to the hype by winning the Dubai Desert Classic last year at 19 and nearly winning the Order of Merit. He had been struggling this year with lower back problems, alarming for someone so young. He had missed two cuts going into Quail Hollow, and had not had a top 10 since the first week of February.
"At home, no matter how he does, the (media) focus is on him," Harrington said. "When you're not winning, not delivering, the focus becomes a burden. If he can get across the line here, he can go from strength to strength. He will be a lot more comfortable with who he is, a lot more patient. The win is significant -- very significant -- at this time."
He crossed the line at full speed.

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