IT was a rousing wire to wire victory by Rory McIlroy at the 2014 British Open overnight and he will go into the 2015 US Masters seeking a career grand slam at only 25 years of age.
Mcllroy had a lot of chasers in the final round at Hoylake but his 1-under 71 and 17-under total was enough for a two stroke victory over runners-up Sergio Garcia (66) and Rickie Fowler (67).
Veteran Jim Furyk (65) was alone in fourth on 13 under while Aussies Marc Leishman (65) and Adam Scott (66) shared fifth at 12 under.
It appears Scott will retain his world No.1 ranking with McIlroy following closely at No.2.
McIlroy became just the third man in the modern era after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to win three majors by the age of 25.
The Northern Irishman and former world No.1 had a big career slump after changing brand sponsors and other issues, and his path back to international success probably started when he beat Adam Scott in the final round of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney last November.
McIlroy went on to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth earlier this year. He now needs to win the Masters to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only men to have won all four Majors.
“It feels incredible,” McIlroy said. “The Open is the one that we all want and strive for and to be able to hold this Claret Jug is an incredible feeling. Today wasn’t easy. There were a lot of guys making runs at me and I just needed to stay focused, keep in the present and concentrate on what I was doing out there.
“To be three legs towards the career grand slam at the age of 25 is a pretty good achievement. It’s not going to sink in for a while.”
Leishman, who started the final round a stroke behind Scott, was happy with his eight birdies and best ever Open finish. He was T60 in 2010 and missed the cut the past two years.
Scott no doubt had the worst of the draw in the opening two rounds – judged by the locals to be worth at least three strokes – and after opening with three birdies in the first handful of holes didn’t need the double bogey on seven. He bounced back with five birdies on the back nine … but it was never going to be enough after starting 10 strokes behind McIlroy.
The Aussie vowed to be back next year [at St Andrews] trying even harder.
“I’m disappointed, but you can get on the wrong side of the draw every now and then,” he said. “It’s just the way it goes. I’ve been on the good side, too. Hopefully I’ll be on the good side again sometime.
“When Rory gets into a rhythm he’s phenomenal. He doesn’t have weaknesses and he has more strengths than almost anyone else.
“When he’s like that you’ll see him shoot low numbers all the time and this course was receptive for him for a couple of days that set him up for today.”
McIlroy’s dad a big winner
McIlroy’s father Gerry, who was on hand for the win, couldn’t be happier – particularly since he and two friends placed three wagers a decade ago – Gerry bet 200 pounds at 500/1 that McIlroy would win the Open within 10 years, while his friends bet 200 pounds at 250/1 for him to win the tournament by 2015, and 200 more at 150/1 for him to win it by the age of 50. They were expected to win a combined 180,000 pounds ($327,000).
Rory McIlroy 2014 British Open Champion: Video2014 British Open Leaderboard