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Golf: Rory McIlroy wins British Open for 3rd major

Published July 21, 2014 2:56 pm

Only Jack and Tiger won three legs of the career Grand Slam sooner then he did.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Hoylake, England • Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf's oldest trophy.

On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.

And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.

"I'm immensely proud of myself," McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. "To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam ... yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly."

He had to work a little harder than he wanted for this one.

Staked to a six-shot lead going into the final round, McIlroy turned back every challenge. He made two key birdies around the turn, and delivered a majestic drive at just the right moment to close with a 1-under 71 and complete his wire-to-wire victory.

In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.

After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later.

Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he's just getting started again.

McIlroy won by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to become the first start-to-finish winner since Woods at St. Andrews in 2005. Even with one major left this year, the Northern Irishman already is looking ahead to Augusta National next April for a shot at the slam.

"I've really found my passion again for golf," McIlroy said. "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."

McIlroy put an end to this major with a powerful drive down the fairway at the par-5 16th, setting up a two-putt birdie to restore his lead to three shots. He finished with two pars, tapping in for par on the 18th green.

The hard part was trying not to cry when his mother, Rosie, came onto the green with tears streaming down her face. She was not at the other two majors. Before leaving, McIlroy turned and applauded the fans in the horseshoe arena who were witness to another masterpiece.

This could have been another romp except for a shaky stretch early for McIlroy, and solid efforts from Garcia and Fowler.

Garcia pulled within two shots with four holes to play until he put his tee shot in a pot bunker just right of the 15th green.

His first shot failed to get over the 4-foot sodden wall and rolled back into the sand. He made bogey, and two birdies over the final three holes were not enough. Garcia shot 66 and was runner-up in a major for the fourth time.

"I think that we gave it a good effort," Garcia said. "And there was someone a little bit better."

Fowler, playing in the final group for the second straight major, didn't do anything wrong. He just didn't do enough right to make up a six-shot deficit. Fowler played without a bogey, made three birdies on the last four holes and shot 67.

"He played awesome," Fowler said.

It was the first time two straight majors were won wire to wire. Martin Kaymer did it last month at Pinehurst No. 2, taking the U.S. Open by eight shots.

McIlroy, who finished at 17-under 271, wasn't the only big winner Sunday. Ten years ago, his father and three of his friends each put up 100 pounds ($170) at 500-1 odds that McIlroy would win the British Open before he turned 26.

The kid made good on the bet with a brand of golf that had him marked early as golf's next great player.

McIlroy moved up to No. 2 in the world, perhaps on his way to regaining the No. 1 ranking that once looked as if it would be his for years. He ended the 2012 season by winning his second major and capturing the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour.

Since then, the road has been bumpier.

McIlroy signed a megadeal with Nike and switched out all his equipment. He changed management for the second time, leading to lawsuits that are still to be decided. And after getting engaged to Caroline Wozniacki on New Year's Eve, he abruptly broke off the engagement in May with a telephone call.

His path to victory in The Open was much smoother. —

Sunday's scores

British Open

At Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Hoylake, England

Purse • $9.24 million

Yardage • 7,312; Par • 72

Final

FedEx Cup points in parentheses

Rory McIlroy (600), $1,665,788 66-66-68-71 — 271

Rickie Fowler (270), $785,910 69-69-68-67 — 273

Sergio Garcia (270), $785,910 68-70-69-66 — 273

Jim Furyk (150), $478,380 68-71-71-65 — 275

Marc Leishman (115), $359,639 69-72-70-65 — 276

Adam Scott (115), $359,639 68-73-69-66 — 276

Edoardo Molinari, $263,536 68-73-68-68 — 277

Charl Schwartzel (97), $263,536 71-67-72-67 — 277

Victor Dubuisson, $192,492 74-66-68-70 — 278

Shane Lowry, $192,492 68-75-70-65 — 278

Graeme McDowell (82), $192,492 74-69-68-67 — 278

Dustin Johnson (68), $144,654 71-65-71-72 — 279

Robert Karlsson, $144,654 69-71-70-69 — 279

Ryan Moore (68), $144,654 70-68-73-68 — 279

Stephen Gallacher, $117,318 70-72-70-68 — 280

David Howell, $117,318 72-70-70-68 — 280

Francesco Molinari, $117,318 68-70-75-67 — 280

George Coetzee, $105,073 70-69-74-68 — 281

Keegan Bradley (51), $93,968 73-71-69-69 — 282

Angel Cabrera (51), $93,968 76-69-70-67 — 282

Chris Kirk (51), $93,968 71-74-68-69 — 282

Matteo Manassero, $93,968 67-75-68-72 — 282

Phil Mickelson (47), $78,876 74-70-71-68 — 283

Justin Rose (47), $78,876 72-70-69-72 — 283

Chris Wood, $78,876 75-70-73-65 — 283

Byeong-Hun An, $65,350 72-71-69-72 — 284

Thomas Bjorn, $65,350 70-71-76-67 — 284

Darren Clarke (43), $65,350 72-72-67-73 — 284

Brian Harman (43), $65,350 72-73-68-71 — 284

Ben Martin (43), $65,350 71-73-70-70 — 284

Jimmy Walker (43), $65,350 69-71-71-73 — 284

Kristoffer Broberg, $52,964 70-73-70-72 — 285

David Hearn (38), $52,964 70-73-71-71 — 285

Hunter Mahan (38), $52,964 71-73-72-69 — 285

D.A. Points (38), $52,964 75-69-72-69 — 285

Branden Grace, $46,271 71-72-69-74 — 286

Louis Oosthuizen (34), $46,271 70-68-76-72 — 286

Jordan Spieth (34), $46,271 71-75-67-73 — 286

Thongchai Jaidee, $36,253 72-72-72-71 — 287

Hideki Matsuyama (29), $36,253 69-74-73-71 — 287

Koumei Oda, $36,253 69-77-74-67 — 287

Kevin Stadler (29), $36,253 73-72-71-71 — 287

Henrik Stenson (29), $36,253 72-73-73-69 — 287

Brendon Todd (29), $36,253 73-73-74-67 — 287

Marc Warren, $36,253 71-68-72-76 — 287

Gary Woodland (29), $36,253 75-69-72-71 — 287

Gregory Bourdy, $27,358 75-69-74-70 — 288

Paul Casey (23), $27,358 74-71-73-70 — 288

Stewart Cink (23), $27,358 71-75-73-69 — 288

Zach Johnson (23), $27,358 71-75-71-71 — 288

Jason Dufner (19), $25,030 70-74-74-71 — 289

Bill Haas (19), $25,030 70-72-73-74 — 289

Tom Watson (19), $25,030 73-73-75-68 — 289

Matt Jones (16), $23,791 71-74-72-73 — 290

Matt Kuchar (16), $23,791 73-71-74-72 — 290

Kevin Na (16), $23,791 76-70-70-74 — 290

Kevin Streelman (16), $23,791 72-74-69-75 — 290

Jason Day (11), $22,808 73-73-74-71 — 291

Jamie McLeary, $22,808 73-73-75-70 — 291

Ryan Palmer (11), $22,808 74-71-76-70 — 291

Chris Rodgers, $22,808 73-71-73-74 — 291

John Senden (11), $22,808 71-74-75-71 — 291

Brandt Snedeker (11), $22,808 74-72-71-74 — 291

Luke Donald (6), $22,040 73-73-71-75 — 292

Billy Hurley III (6), $22,040 73-72-76-71 — 292

Thorbjorn Olesen (6), $22,040 75-71-73-73 — 292

Charley Hoffman (4), $21,613 74-72-76-71 — 293

Brooks Koepka, $21,613 68-77-74-74 — 293

Tiger Woods (2), $21,356 69-77-73-75 — 294

Martin Kaymer (1), $21,185 73-72-72-79 — 296

Matt Every (1), $21,015 75-71-73-78 — 297

Rhein Gibson, $20,844 72-74-74-78 — 298