Magnificent McIlroy wins by seven as Pebble Beach looms large
Shane Lowry finishes in second place as McDowell secures British Open place
Rory McIlroy on the 18th green after making a putt to win the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club. Photograph: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Jack Nicklaus is credited with the quote, “focus on remedies, not faults.” And Rory McIlroy rebounded from a missed cut at last week’s Memorial tournament, after which he spent time working glitches in his swing, in producing a display of sheer brilliance with a closing round 61 for 22-under-par 258 that gave him victory in the RBC Canada Open at Hamilton Country Club in Ontaria.
McIlroy’s masterclass - giving him a second win of the season to go with his Players championship success in March - earned him a $1.35 million payday and gave him a seven strokes win over Shane Lowry and Webb Simpson. Lowry continued his fine recent form with a closing 67 for 265, 15-under-par, as he secured a third straight top-10 finish on the PGA Tour.
Coming a week ahead of the US Open at Pebble Beach, McIlory’s final round performance sent the 30-year-old Northern Irishman on to California with supreme confidence with a second win of the season to add to his confidence bank.
“I just got it going out of the gates. I wanted to be aggressive and I played with so much freedom over the weekend. It was one of those days I got it going, 59 was in my sights and I gave myself a chance at it. There were less technical thoughts and I was fully prepared to play. It all came together,” said McIlroy.
In an extraordinary tournament for Irish players, Graeme McDowell also booked his ticket to play in the 148th British Open at Royal Portrush next month: G-Mac holed a 25-footer for par on the 18th for a final round 68 for 270, which left him as one of three players inside the top-10 not already exempt for the championship.
The fist-bumps and clasp of hands with caddie Kenny Comboy provided visible confirmation of just what it mean for McDowell to confirm his place in the field for Portush, his hometown tournament.
“It’s really nice to get the job done. I am very ecstatic to be in the field (for the Open). It is actually more difficult than trying to win a golf tournament, it was nice to see that putt go in. I thought two putts might do it but it looks like I needed to hole it, so that was nice. The crowd reminded me on every tee shot, ‘I hope you get in The Open buddy’, it is a bit of extra weight off my shoulder. It would have been bittersweet for me to see the Open go to Portrush and me not be there,” said McDowell, who heads on to next week’s US Open at Pebble Beach, the scene of his only Major triumph back in 2010.
But the manner of McIlroy’s win will ensure that the four-time Major champion will head to the Monterey peninsula as one of the favourites after a display in which he lead the field in distance and ranked second in greens-in-regulation. Most importantly, McIroy ranked first - by a distance - in the lowest score category with seven strokes to spare over Lowry and Simpson.
McIlroy set out his intent from the off, a huge drive on the first - of 353 yards - left him with a pitch which hit the flag and left him a six-inch tap-in for an opening birdie. It set the scene for a superb front nine of 30 strokes as he added further birdies on the second, fourth, fifth and seventh. The longest of his birdie putts was from nine-feet two-inches on the second.
McIlroy maintained his birdie streak on the homeward run with four straight birdies - from the 11th to the 14th - only for the hot streak to come to an end on the Par 3 16th where a bogey briefly halted his momentum.
An eagle three on the Par 5 17th - where he hit a 196 yards approach to two feet - put McIlroy on 59 watch, but his approach to the 18th found a greenside bunker and he was forced to settle for a bogey to finish in what was his first ever appearance in Canadian Open and final outing ahead of the US Open.
Lowry’s hot form of recent months continued, as he followed a tied-third in the RBC Heritage Classic and tied-eighth US PGA with a runner-up finish which earned him a $820,000 payday and moved him from 119th up to 65th in cementing his quest to make the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The 32-year-old Offalyman fashioned a round of 67 - four birdies and a lone bogey - for a total of 265 for tied second, which - like McIlroy and McDowell - put him in good mood heading on to the US Open, the season’s third Major.