13 August 2012

McIlroy Wins With Consummate Ease at Kiawah Island

On Sunday morning the 94th USPGA Championship was hanging in the balance with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Fiji's Vijay Singh tied for the lead on -6. As Saturday's play was suspended the leaders had to resume mid-way through their third rounds and McIlroy got out the blocks the quickest as he moved into the lead on his own with an impressive 67. Singh slipped back to join 14-time major champion Tiger Woods on -2 while Carl Pettersson went into the final round in second place on four under.

The Northern Irishman found himself with the 54-hole lead for the third time in a major after his collapse at Augusta last year and his demolition job at Congressional in the 2011 US Open. Early on it was Englishman Ian Poulter who made a charge as he birdied his first five holes to get to within one with some magical stroke-play and a series of one-putts. He made it birdie number six on the seventh hole as it started to look as though something special was on the horizon. Something out of the ordinary did happen, but it was not Poulter who produced it as he fell away on the back nine to finish with a 69 on four under par. 

Many turned to Tiger Woods to light up the course and he was on the prowl to start with after two early birdies, only for his challenge to also fail to materialise down the home stretch. McIlroy was playing serene golf and went out in just 33 strokes as he opened up a two shot lead over Poulter. Big Swede Carl Pettersson was in contention as he moved to -6 despite incurring a two-shot penalty on the first hole for moving a leaf (loose impediment) with his club in a hazard. However he also faltered as it became the 'Macca' show. 

The Ulsterman rolled in a ten-footer on the 12th green to move six shots clear and after that it was merely a victory procession. Like Congressional he had that bounding walk as he seemed to find fairways and greens with relative ease. When he did find trouble he also found his short game in excellent order as he got up and down on 16 to move seven shots clear on -12. He finished in magnificent style to boot as he holed a 12-foot putt on the 72nd hole to match his effort at Congressional last summer and win by eight shots. He took only 25 putts in a majestic final round of 66 which was added to rounds of 67, 75 and 67 to leave him on -13 with his nearest competitor, David Lynn, on minus five. 

Understandably McIlroy was delighted after regaining the world number one spot and becoming the youngest ever double major champion at 23: "I don't think I have let it sink in yet, it was a great round of golf. I just wanted to play solid, as I did all the way through the week. I got off to a shaky start but settled into it and my putting was phenomenal. It means an awful lot to look at the names on the trophy and to put my name beside them is something special."

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