McIlroy's twilight special at PGA Championship
August 11, 2014
By D.J. Piehowski, PGATOUR.COM
- All eyes were on Rory McIlroy on Sunday as he captured a thrilling PGA Championship title at Valhalla. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy held off darkness and a stellar leaderboard Sunday at Valhalla to win his fourth major championship, gutting out a final-round 68 on a day when he, admittedly, didn’t have his best stuff. It was McIlroy’s third win in three starts (The Open Championship and the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational).
Here were the best headlines our Twitter followers came up with:
@PGATOUR Raise your hand if you're the best player in the world.— Bob Estes (@BobEstesPGA) August 11, 2014
FIVE STATS TO REMEMBER FROM THIS WEEK
It’s tough to put these in order of impressiveness, but let’s give it a shot.
1) Rory McIlroy is 25 years and 3 months old, which makes him the fourth-youngest player to win four major championships. The only players he trails are Tom Morris Jr. (1872 Open Championship; 21 years, four months), Tiger Woods (2000 Open Championship; 24 years, 6 months) and Jack Nicklaus (1965 Masters; 25 years, 2 months). Woods is the only player who has ever won two PGAs faster than McIlroy.
2) McIlroy is the first player to win back-to-back major championships since Padraig Harrington claimed The Open Championship and the PGA in 2008. In fact, Woods, Harrington, Nick Price and Walter Hagen are the only other players to win The Open and the PGA in the same season. Ever.
3) Rickie Fowler finished T3 at Valhalla, meaning he claimed top-fives at all four of the year’s majors (T5 at the Masters, T2 and the U.S. Open and Open Championship). Since the first Masters in 1934, only two players have finished in the top five in each of the four majors. Jack Nicklaus (1971 and 1973) and Tiger Woods (2000 and 2005) each did it twice.
4) McIlroy won his first four major championships by a combined 19 shots (eight at the 2011 U.S. Open, eight at the 2012 PGA, two at the 2014 Open Championship and one at the 2014 PGA). Because you’re wondering, Woods won his first four majors by a combined 36(!) shots (12 at the 1997 Masters, one at the 1999 PGA, 15 at the 2000 U.S. Open, 8 at the 2000 Open Championship).
5) Phil Mickelson has now finished in the top 10 in all three of the PGA Championships held at Valhalla (T8 in 1996, T9 in 2000, 2nd in 2014). This week’s second-place finish was Mickelson’s ninth runner-up at a major. Of course, six of those have famously come at the U.S. Open, the only major he’s never won.
THIS WEEK’S THREE BEST VIDEOS
1) First off, the shot that got McIlroy’s back-nine charge started, this 3-wood into the 10th green, which led to an eagle. Did McIlroy hit it how he wanted? Not exactly. Did anyone care? No.
Shot of the Day
Rory McIlroy’s exceptional approach is the Shot of the Day
2) Jason Day faded on Sunday, but his par at No. 2 during the third round is worth remembering for years to come.
Jason Day’s walkabout earns par at PGA Championship
3) Also from Saturday was this freakshow from Rory at No. 16, when he went driver-9-iron into the 508-yard par 4, leaving himself a tap-in birdie.
Rory McIlroy sticks his second shot in tight at PGA Championship
ODDS AND ENDS
Rory McIlroy famously celebrated his win at The Open by drinking Jagermeister out of the Claret Jug. There’s still no word on what he'll fill the Wanamaker Trophy with when he returns home, but he got the celebration off to an early start on Sunday night’s private plane ride.
Flying high with the team after my 4th Major victory!!! NYC here we come!! Thanks for all the support and well wishes pic.twitter.com/zK1q8xnwA8— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) August 11, 2014
I'm not sure there enough Jäger in Kentucky to fill that bad boy!! Congrats @McIlroyRory superb golf— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) August 11, 2014
There were countless tweets on Sunday night expressing the positive direction that golf is headed – with young superstars McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, among others, controlling the airtime at this year’s major championships.
It’s doubtful that anyone put it better than Ben Crane.
Of all the "grow golf" initiatives out there, I think having Phil, Rory and Rickie tied for the lead at a major is the best idea yet.— Ben Crane (@bencranegolf) August 10, 2014
I’m not sure what the context of this Fowler photo was, but it pretty much summed up the feelings of any golf fans watching Sunday’s drama unfold.
How confident is McIlroy right now? This tweet from Ted Scott, Bubba Watson’s caddie, should sum it up for you. Watson was paired with McIlroy for the first two rounds this week at Valhalla.
For context, Woods also happened to win his third event in three starts that week.
People ask all the time what TOUR players are “really” like. To that end, McIlroy fans got some good news this week: He’s just as good in person as he seems. For proof, read the account of Timothy Campbell, who blogged about what it was like running into McIlroy at the gas station after his first-round 66.
The early story of the week was not McIlroy, but Tiger Woods, who was forced to withdraw from last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational with back pain. It was unclear until Wednesday afternoon whether or not Woods would be able to play at Valhalla.
With reporters crowded around Woods’ empty parking spot, waiting to see when the 14-time major champ would arrive, Rickie Fowler cashed in on the opportunity for a solid photobomb.
ONE REASON TO BE EXCITED ABOUT THIS WEEK…
After this week’s PGA Championship, we now have nine players locked in for U.S. Ryder Cup spots. Let the captain’s picks debates begin!