So, in the end, Rory reigned supreme at Hoylake and quite rightly so. It would have been a travesty if the young Northern Irishman hadn’t lifted his first, probably of many, Claret Jugs.
McIlroy (pictured celebrating on the 18th green) has been a class above all his rivals this week and after going into today’s final round having posted two 66s and a 68 yesterday, it seemed only right and fitting that he should claim the sport’s richest, most coveted prize.
The jubilant victor announced: “Yeah, I’m immensely proud of myself. To sit here 25 years of age and win my third Major Championship and be three quarters of the way to the career Grand Slam, yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly.
“The Open Championship was the one you really wanted growing up, and the one you holed so many putts on the putting green to win, to beat Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, whoever.
“I didn’t quite need to hole a putt today to do it, just a little tap-in, which was nice. But it hasn’t really sunk in yet but the more I keep looking at this trophy and seeing my name on it, the more it will starting sinking in.”
He held a six-shot overnight lead and as a result all the pressure was on him. It was his Open to lose while the chasing pack, led by playing partner Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia, had everything to gain. They weren’t expected to triumph but to battle it out for the minor placings.
It’s hard work leading from the front you know but the 25-years-old Rors – the first player to win from leading on day one since Tiger Woods in 2005 – seems to relish the challenge and responsibility. Indeed when he first appeared at Hoylake today he looked the calmest and coolest person around.
He was taking it all in his stride and though he had one or two tricky moments on the front nine, the magic of McIlroy is that he can seemingly step on the accelerator whenever required. And that’s exactly what happened at Hoylake: he moved up a gear when he needed to, turning on the tap and quenching the threatening fires burning around him in the heat of the battle.
He didn’t panic. Not even when the outstanding Sergio Garcia (66, -15) reduced his six-shot lead to just a couple at one stage. It was a great effort by the Spaniard who saw his hopes slip away after failing to extract himself from a greenside bunker at 15. At the last Garcia narrowly missed an eagle opportunity and it wasn’t to be though on this form his time to finally land a major can’t be too far away.
Garcia shared second place with American Fowler, two shots behind the champion, and for the latter it was a strange afternoon. He didn’t drop a shot all day but will probably rue not attacking more and making more things happen on the front nine when he needed to put McIlroy under pressure.
Mind you, even if he had done, it’s highly likely McIlroy would have emphatically responded. Pure genius…
The new champion is already looking to the future and winning moee majors. He added: “I definitely hope to win more of them. 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 am really looking forward to playing in them and there’s still one major left (USPGA Championship) this year that I desperately want to try and win.
“I’m looking forward to next April and trying to complete the career Grand Slam at the US Masters.” You wouldn’t rule it out, would you?