Rory McIlroy wins British Open at Hoylake

Northern Irishman shoots a 71 in final round to win by two from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler

Sun, Jul 20, 2014, 20:34

The ascent to greatness shouldn’t appear so natural. Yet, with each stride over this famous old links by the Dee estuary, Rory McIlroy moved effortlessly towards answering the call of his destiny; and, in claiming this 143rd British Open Championship in stunning wire-to-wire fashion, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman completed the third leg of a career Grand Slam.

Of all the Major championships, this one - the oldest and the greatest - is the hardest won.

In a final round played out in dry conditions with just a gentle wind to make players linger slightly longer than normal in considering club selection, McIlroy admittedly didn’t perform with the swagger of his opening three rounds. It was far from easy. But he took a leaf out of Tiger Woods’s book in making winning, rather than the manner of it, the most important thing of all.

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In shooting a final round 71 for 271, 17-under-par, McIlroy finished with two strokes to spare over runners-up Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia.

For a man who had started out with a six-stroke lead, which increased to seven after a birdie on the first hole of his final round, the winning margin was closer than envisaged. Still, in truth, this was a championship which McIlroy had taken by a grip from the outside. Leader after round one. Leader after round two. Leader after round three. Champion Golfer of the year after round four.

Much of his round was spent listening to roars from ahead as Garcia made a fist of mounting a challenge. And, for 16 holes, McIlroy also had a spectator heckling him. On the 16th tee, McIlroy finally had enough of the interference when the spectator coughed on his downswing and he pointed out the perpetrator to a marshal. “I didn’t have him bothering me for the last two holes, which was nice,” admitted McIlroy.

As he had done throughout the championship, McIlroy used two trigger words. Afterwards, he revealed what they were - nothing too glamorous or earth-shattering: “process” and “spot”.

He explained: “With my long shots I wanted to stick to my process and to making good decisions, making good swings . . . and then spot was for my putting, just picking a spot on the green and trying to roll it over my spot each and every time.” Not rocket science, for sure, but it worked wonderfully.

In following some famous footsteps on this terrain - among them Bobby Jones, Fred Daly, the first Irishman to win a Major in 1947, and of course Woods himself in 2006 - McIlroy created some history of his own. In achieving a third career Major, he dedicated the win to his mother Rosie, who was on hand for a first time to witness her son win a Major. She had missed his US Open win at Congressional in 2011 and US PGA success at Kiawah Island in 2012.

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