Rory McIlroy put on a dominant display to capture his 16th PGA Tour title at the RBC Canadian Open by a record seven shots
Rory McIlroy claimed his second PGA Tour title of the year at the RBC Candian Open on Sunday with a final round 61 to break the tournament record by five shots.
The World No.4 missed his first cut of 2019 at Memorial but recaptured the form he's shown all year with nine birdies, an eagle and two bogeys on Sunday on his first trip to Hamilton Golf and Country Club, finishing on 22-under-par for the week.
But what is staggering, is that it could have been so much better. Standing on the 18th tee, McIlroy was 10-under for his round and in need of a birdie for a 59 - a score few can boast about posting.
Having played with a type of freeness all day the tournament was in his complete control by the turn, and it meant McIlroy was only thinking about shooting a 59.
He ended up in the greenside bunker with his approach shot to the last, and needed to hole out for an extra record in the books. He gave his shot a good go, but went on to miss his putt for 60 after Webb Simpson holed a chip of his own to share second place with Shane Lowry.
“I had a chance to shoot 59. Sorry for being disappointed up here,” said McIlroy. “I played 17 wonderful holes. I was 10-under through 17 holes and I shot 4-under on the back nine with two bogeys, so that was pretty good too.
"I think by the time I got to the 14th tee I wasn't really thinking of winning the tournament. I was thinking of trying to shoot 59. I had to reassess my goals a little bit in the middle of that back nine.
"This is what I feel I can do. I've been able to do it before. It was nice to get back to that feeling. It's been a while since I won by a few shots. I think it's going back to Quail Hollow in Charlotte in 2015. Won by seven there."
Talking after his victory, McIlroy said he felt like he was able to play with freedom, and was most proud of the way he closed out the win.
"(I'm) delighted to be sitting up here. You know, it started off as a good week. I really was very glad to add this tournament to the schedule, especially after missing the cut last week at Memorial.
"I did a little bit of extra practice over the weekend; felt like my game was a little better coming in here; then awesome really good signs over the first couple days. Played nicely, got myself into position or thereabouts. I think I was five off the lead going into the weekend.
"Then yesterday I just felt really comfortable with my game and I played aggressively. Was sort of swinging very freely. Shot that 64 to get myself tied for the lead today. I think what I'm proudest of is still playing with that freedom today going out being tied for the lead. Just putting my foot down and really making this tournament mine.
"I've been able to do this before. I feel if I just get myself in the right place I'll hopefully be able to do it more often and produce the sort of golf I produced over the weekend."
McIlroy began the final round in a tie for the lead with Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson, but he pulled away in sensational form from the start, nearly holing out for eagle on the 1st and converting from six feet for a second birdie in a row on two.
His iron play was exceptional, and two more birdies came in quick succession at the fourth and fifth holes before getting to five-under through seven holes to put some distance between him and the chasing pack.
He followed a front nine of 30 with four more birdies in a row from the 11th, culminating in a 30 footer on 14 that had even Rory shaking his head as the talk of a 59 became more likely. At a par 70, McIlroy needed two birdies in his final four holes.
Instead, McIlroy's tee shot took a big bounce in to the rough on 15 and he escaped with a good up and down for par, but couldn't do the same on the par-3 16th and walked away with his first dropped shot of the day.
Undeterred, the Northern Irishman barely had over 2 feet for eagle on the par-five 17th to get to 23-under-par for the tournament, before a final hole bogey left him with a disappointing end to a spectacular display of golf.
And with the U.S Open next week, McIlroy is hoping he can become the first man since himself in 2014 to win a major the week after claiming a Tour event.
"Obviously a huge confidence builder not just for next week, but for the rest of the season. To be tied for the lead and to play the way I did, play with that freedom and play with no inhibitions, take driver and stay aggressive, I think this will -- obviously very proud of what I've done today," he said.
"I've been playing well basically all year. Been giving myself loads of chances to win. The criticism might have been that I haven't won enough, but hopefully today with not just winning, but the way I won, that gives me a lot of confidence going forward for sure."
Behind McIlroy, his playing partner Webb Simpson birdied his final two holes to sign for a two-under 68 and a share of second place with Shane Lowry on -15, who has now had three top 10s in a row.
Two shots further back on 13-under-par were Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar, while Canadian Adam Hadwin claimed solo sixth after struggling to find the same form he'd had over the first few days.
Sungjae Im finished in seventh on 12-under, while Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and Graeme McDowell rounded out the top 10 on -11, and with it came the added bonus of qualification to The Open in July for Gmac.