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Rory McIlroy wins 2014 PGA Championship for fourth major title

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Bill Pennington

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Rory McIlroy takes out fourth major title

Rory McIlroy produces a scintillating back nine to clinch his fourth major title with the PGA Championship crown in Kentucky.

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Louisville, Kentucky. First the rain came, flooding an already soft and vulnerable Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday afternoon until the greens were ponds and the fairways were streaked by flowing rivulets.

The leaderboard heading into the final round was stocked with golf's elite, and the combination of talent and a vulnerable, receptive course foreshadowed a showdown of aggressive, attacking shot making.

Simply irresistable: Rory McIlroy celebrates his one-shot victory.

Simply irresistable: Rory McIlroy celebrates his one-shot victory. Photo: Getty Images

The previous three major championships this year had been notable for their lack of drama as the eventual winners took comfortable leads into the final hours and cruised to weighty if wearisome victories.

By contrast, the final round of the PGA Championship was a taut battle more like a heavyweight prizefight. Four men climbed into the ring and exchanged birdies at a sizzling pace at close quarters.

Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson took turns holding at least a piece of the tournament lead across four hours of major championship anxiety. Racing to be done before sunset because the rain had delayed the tournament by nearly two hours, they briskly charged and parried until McIlroy found the resolve to make a pivotal birdie at the 17th hole and held on with a par on the 18th to claim a one-shot victory over Mickelson.

Rory McIlroy lifts the Wanamaker trophy for the second time.

Rory McIlroy lifts the Wanamaker trophy for the second time. Photo: Getty Images

McIlroy's final-round 68 took him to 16 under par for the tournament. Fowler and Stenson finished two shots back at 14 under.

It was McIlroy's second major victory of the season, his second PGA Championship and the fourth major title of his young, flourishing career. With his previous three major titles, including this year's British Open, McIlroy, 25, protected a big lead in the final round. On Sunday, McIlroy had to rally and persevere. In that way, it may be his greatest performance in a major championship.

McIlroy began the day with a one-stroke lead, but not long after he teed off, he found himself in a five-way tie. Within an hour, he had lost the lead entirely.

So close: Phil Mickelson.

So close: Phil Mickelson. Photo: Reuters

Mickelson made the initial charge, rolling in a 10-metre birdie putt on the first hole to move two shots behind McIlroy and making a three-metre putt for another birdie at the third hole. Minutes later, McIlroy became a little tentative on a one-metre par putt at the third hole, and his ball slid past the right edge of the cup.

That put Mickelson and McIlroy in a tie for the lead at 12 under par for the tournament. Ten minutes later, Fowler joined the party with a birdie at the fourth hole to also go to 12 under. Moments later, Stenson birdied the fifth hole and Bernd Wiesberger birdied the third, which put five golfers at the top of the leader board at 12 under.

Wiesberger would fade, but Fowler was just getting started. He leapt ahead at the fifth hole, chipping in from just off the green to take a one-shot lead. Stenson caught him a few holes later. McIlroy dropped back when his two-metre putt for par at the sixth hole did not come close to the cup, dropping him two strokes off the lead.

McIlroy salutes the crowd after he sank his final shot in the dark.

McIlroy salutes the crowd after he sank his final shot in the dark. Photo: Getty Images

At the ninth hole, Mickelson's approach shot stopped three metres from the green. A big gallery surrounded the green and then roared as Mickelson curled in the right-to-left birdie putt to tie him with Fowler and Stenson at 14 under.

The back and forth was only beginning. Fowler sank a 10-metre uphill birdie putt at the 10th hole to jump ahead again. McIlroy watched that sequence from the 10th fairway, 260 metres away. He then swatted his ball with a fairway wood, and by the time it came to rest, it was a little over two metres from the hole.

McIlroy, the only player to reach the 10th green in two shots on Sunday, made the eagle putt to draw one shot behind Fowler.

Fowler went to 15 under at the 10th hole, and Mickelson tied him with a four-metre birdie putt on the 11th. The fierce competition continued unabated – Mickelson making a nearly impossible par save at the 12th and Stenson regaining a piece of the lead at the 13th, then giving it back with a botched short putt on the next hole.

McIlroy missed a two-metre birdie chance at the 12th, then made a three-metre putt for birdie to tie Fowler and Mickelson for the lead. McIlroy pugnaciously pumped his fist as the ball fell in the hole. Then Fowler bogeyed the next hole.

The duck, dodge and charge continued until Stenson failed to capitalise on an easy birdie opportunity at the par-5 18th. On the 17th hole, McIlroy blasted out of a fairway bunker, left his ball four metres from the hole and made the putt for birdie and a two-shot lead.

On the next hole, McIlroy did something highly unusual for tournament golf, let alone a major. He ran ahead and joined Mickelson and Fowler, who had already hit their shots, on the 18th tee.

After Mickelson and Fowler walked part of the way down the hole, McIlroy hit a driver in an effort to finish before the enveloping darkness made it pragmatically impossible to finish the final hole.

With the group now playing as a foursome, Mickelson almost chipped in for an eagle that would have tied him with McIlroy. He birdied instead. Fowler, putting in near darkness, had his birdie putt lip out to drop him two strokes back.

McIlroy hit his second shot into the green-side bunker at the par-five 18th hole, but he put it on the green and made a nervous two-putt to maintain his lead.

Play at the tournament was suspended at 12.53pm on Sunday when torrential rains bombarded the course, left standing water on seemingly every fairway and turned some greens into little ponds. The storm drove several hundred spectators back to their cars.

Once there, they found grass parking lots that now resembled swamps. Since Friday, Valhalla Golf Club has seen nearly 65 millimetres of rain.

Once the rain stopped, about 25 minutes later, work crews began to use squeegees to thrust the accumulated rainwater into the course's drainage areas. It was a colossal task. The low-lying practice range, which had to open so the leaders could warm up, was submerged.

But within an hour, the sun emerged and much of the standing water receded. Play resumed at 2.44pm, and the tee time of the final pairing of McIlroy and Wiesberger was announced for 4.19pm. The hope was that the final duo could play in about four hours and beat the 8.43pm sunset.

McIlroy's final putt fell into the 18th hole at 8.43pm.

Jason Day (72) and Adam Scott (69) were the best-placed Australians at nine-under par, a distant seven shots back in a tie for 15th. Day was just one shot off the lead early in the final round, but was left to rue an awful day on the greens.

Scott’s dreams of making a big push died on the opening hole when he missed the fairway to the right and the green long, failing to get up and down and making bogey. He managed four birdies in the final round, but was never in the mix.

Fellow Australians Matt Jones and Geoff Ogilvy finished with rounds of 72 to be one under for the week, while Marc Leishman (69) posted his first sub-par round of the week to join his countrymen in a tie for 47th.

Final round leaderboard

Rory McIlroy -16

Phil Mickelson -15

Rickie Fowler -14 

Henrik Stenson -14

Jim Furyk -12 

Ryan Palmer -12 

Jason Day - 9

Adam Scott - 9

New York Times

12 comments

  • Congratulations Rory what a win, at 25 with 4 majors and who knows how many more to come! Life must be great for Rory right now. Adam Scott with his putting pole ( Thank God they will be banned in 2015) who claimed the world no 1 spot for a couple of hours after winning his one and only major, which in all probability will be the only one he'll ever win, can talk the talk but he can't walk the walk. His comments that he has set himself a target of winning 6 majors by the time he'll reach 40 is plain arrogance he then added but I may short change myself here and really win 12 this shows what a dope arrogant Adam really is,learn how to put before you mouth off Adam, let's see how he'll go without his ridiculous putting pole?? Jason Day is Australias best golfer.

    Commenter
    Arthur Insidious
    Date and time
    August 11, 2014, 12:15PM
    • Strong in this one is the dark side. Give in to your anger you must not.

      Commenter
      Yoda
      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 12:33PM
    • Actually, Scott's putter is not banned until 2016. Don't really think you needed to berate him either. Pretty sure he's doing a hell of a lot more with his life than you are.

      Commenter
      Billie
      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 12:44PM
    • This has to be the stupidest post I've ever read. In his last 13 majors Scott has finished outside the top 15 once. Once. That is freak consistency, while Day has missed out seven times in his last 13. The putter issue is irrelevant because putting has always been the most questionable part of his game anyway. He is just as likely to get it sorted with a short putter as he was with a long one.

      I'd love to know how you justify your claim that a golfer with 2 wins on the 2 major tours is a better player than one with 18 - as well as his 5 wins on the Australian PGA Tour to Day's huge haul of 0.

      And don't use age as a factor either. When he was Day's age, Scott had 11 wins in USA/Europe plus one in Australia. You need to check your facts before you start mouthing off.

      And by the way, I've never once heard of anyone being accused of arrogance because they set a goal.

      Commenter
      Phat
      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 12:48PM
    • My thoughts exactly. Scott was always only a caretaker number 1 until Rory really got going again. He is a good golfer but we are witnessing greatness here with McIlroy.

      Scott also said 'it was time for players like him and Justin Rose to start racking up major titles' and I was like whoa easy there big fella you are talking like you have a handful already. I would be surprised if he ever won another one which will leave him with half of John Daly's total. Ho, ho.

      Commenter
      Tim
      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 12:51PM
  • Well said Tim. Rory is the most complete golfer and I would expect to be No.1 for a very long time!

    Commenter
    Al
    Location
    Freo
    Date and time
    August 11, 2014, 1:13PM
    • I seriously can't believe what I'm reading.

      Are we that much of a tall-poppy country that we are actually going to start criticising our own players for simply setting a goal? Basically, what Scott has said, is this: "I'm a decent golfer, but it won't mean much if I keep posting respectable but not winning efforts in major tournaments. I believe I can win more of them, and I need to." What the hell is wrong with that?

      Don't forget, he finished 5th at The Open despite twice getting stiffed (purely as a result of blind bad luck mind you) by the scheduling with regard to tee times. Its not like he's completely incapable of matching Mclroy.

      Commenter
      Phat
      Date and time
      August 11, 2014, 1:15PM
      • Caroline Wozniacki must be thinking, "Damn.. That cups the same size as him"!

        Commenter
        JMB
        Location
        Gold Coast
        Date and time
        August 11, 2014, 4:13PM
        • Rickie Fowler is on fire. Who was the last person to finish in the top 5 in all 4 majors?. If he keeps knocking on the door like that he will be the one threatening Nicklaus' record not Woods..

          Commenter
          rexhapi
          Date and time
          August 11, 2014, 7:15PM
          • Ricky needs to win a few first before he threatens anyone least of all Tiger or Jack, Rory is the same age and has 4 majors already, he may go one to get close, but don't forget Golf today is an entirely different game to what Jack played back when in every respect, even Tiger when he first came to prominence was considered a genius and a very long hitter, today there are more players of exceptional talent than ever before, even the Ladies hit the ball 340 yards, see Michelle Wie's drives.

            Commenter
            J Dean
            Date and time
            August 12, 2014, 12:33AM

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