HOYLAKE, England –Rory McIlroy has claimed the third leg of the career Grand Slam by winning The Open Championship. McIlroy started the final round with a six-shot lead, but had to fight on the back nine after his lead got down to two shots. McIlroy has won a major in three of the past four years, adding The Open to his 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship victories.
“It’s pretty hard to describe right now, to be honest,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I’ve come a long way in the last 18 months. A lot has happened to me on and off the golf course. My determination and hard work have really paid off.”
McIlroy made four birdies and three bogeys on Sunday to shoot 1-under 71. He finished at 17-under 271, two shots ahead of Sergio Garcia (66) and Rickie Fowler (67). Fowler has finished in the top five in each of the year’s first three majors, including runners-up at the U.S. Open and Open Championship.
McIlroy made eagles on two of the final three holes — the par-5 16th and 18th holes — in the third round to build his lead entering the final round. That finish proved to be important in light of Sunday’s proceedings.
“Yesterday’s finish proved to be very important,” McIlroy said. “Those two eagles went a long way to deciding this championship.”
McIlroy made a birdie at the par-3 ninth hole Sunday to take a four-shot lead with nine holes remaining. A bogey on the par-3 13th hole cut his lead to two shots, though. He played his final five holes in 1 under par, though. A birdie on the par-5 16th hole — where he reached the green with a 360-yard drive and 7-iron — gave him a three-shot lead with two holes remaining. He missed the 17th green, but chipped to inches to maintain that lead and make for a stress-free walk up the 18th hole.
“I’m immensely proud of myself,” McIlroy said. “To sit here at 25 years of age and win my third major and be three-quarters of the way to the career Grand Slam, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly.”
He has the opportunity to win the final leg of the Grand Slam, the Masters Tournament, before his 26th birthday.
“I’m looking forward to driving up Magnolia Lane next year,” McIlroy said.