It was Sunday drama at The Open Championship, and Rory McIlroy emerged as the Champion Golfer of the Year. A couple bogeys by Rory on the front nine kept the final round challengers in the tournament, but a clutch up-and-down on 17 secured the third leg of the career Grand Slam for McIlroy.
Rory said, “It feels absolutely incredible. It’s sort of cool that they put your name on there even before you get it. So that was a nice little touch. Yeah, it’s been an incredible week. I’m happy I gave myself enough of a cushion today, because there was a lot of guys coming at me, especially Sergio and Rickie.”
“Just to be sitting here, and looking at this thing and having my name on it, it’s a great feeling. It obviously hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m going to enjoy it and let it sink in tonight in the company of my friends and family.”
McIlroy repeated two words in his head throughout the week, which paid off big time, “It was “process” and “spot”. That was it. With my long shots I just wanted to stick to my process and stick to making good decisions, making good swings. The process of making a good swing, if I had any sort of little swing thoughts, just keeping that so that the end result wasn’t — I wasn’t thinking about the end result, basically.”
“And then “spot” was for my putting. I was just picking a spot on the green and trying to roll it over my spot, roll it over my spot every time.”
The question on everyone’s mind is, how quickly will Rory complete the career Grand Slam? It’s almost a sure thing, and McIlroy will be ready to compete at Augusta next April. “I’ve really found my passion again for golf. Not that it ever dwindled, but it’s what I think about when I get up in the morning. It’s what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the best golfer that I can be, and I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability.”
“I’d love to win a lot more and really looking forward to — even though there’s still one major left this year that I want to desperately try and win, I’m looking forward to next April and trying to complete the career Grand Slam.”
Despite nearly everyone rooting for him at Hoylake, there was one fan who Rory had ejected after purposely coughing during his downswing on the par-5 16th. The drive went 360 yards straight down the middle. “He was giving me grief all day, actually. And I sort of put it up for the first 15 holes, and then he deliberately coughed on my downswing on the 16th tee. I still hit a great drive, but I heard it halfway down and I knew who it was. So I turned around and got him chucked out, thankfully.”
Once Rory sealed the deal, he and his Mom had a special moment in back of the 18th green. “My Mom hasn’t been at the previous two major wins. It was just my Dad, and it was just great to see her on the back of the 18th there and how much it meant to her. I was trying not to cry at the time because she was bawling her eyes out.
“But it was just — the support of my parents has been incredible, and even growing up and doing everything, the sacrifices that they made for me. But even up to this day they’re the two people in this world that I can talk to anything about. I couldn’t ask to have two better parents. They’re there for me at the worst of times, like this time last year after missing the cut at Muirfield, or the best of times walking off as the Champion Golfer of the Year. I can’t speak highly enough of my parents. They’re the best people in the world.”
Hopefully, there are many more hugs for the McIlroy family at future major championships.
Final round recap:
Rory made an opening birdie to briefly extend his lead to seven strokes. He was cruising until back-to-back bogeys on 5 and 6 brought his lead to three strokes over a surging Sergio Garcia.
An eagle on the par-5 tenth by Sergio cut Rory’s lead to two strokes through nine holes. However, McIlroy followed his birdie on 9 with a birdie on 10 to move his lead back to three. Rickie Fowler also made a birdie on 10 to stay five behind Rory.
Fowler would go on to make great par saves on 12, 14, and 17 along with birdies on 15, 16, and 18 to get to 15-under total, and tie for second place with Garcia.
When Rory bogeyed 13, his lead went back to two strokes over Sergio who emerged as the premier challenger for most of the back nine. Garcia was unable to make a crucial birdie before the closing par-5s, and potentially lost the tournament after leaving it in the bunker on the 160-yard par-3 15th. A bogey on 15 pushed Rory’s lead back to three, and Garcia’s birdies on 16 and 18 were not enough to make up the deficit.
A key shot came on the difficult par-4 17th. Rory had 240 yards into the green, and missed it short right. He hit a terrific pitch shot to tap-in range, and walked to the 18th tee with a three shot lead.
McIlroy was able to relax on his 15-footer for birdie on 18, and made par for a two-shot win, and a big hug from his Mom.