Rory McIlroy was savouring yet another major masterclass yesterday — and just loving the fact that he had proved some people wrong about him.
Fourteen months after winning the US Open by a massive eight shots, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman astonishingly did the same in the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island on Sunday night.
McIlroy’s first major title had come with a record score and his second was by a record margin in the event, beating the seven strokes of Jack Nicklaus in 1970. More than that, the Holywood golfer — now starting his fourth reign as World
No 1 and intent on making it a longer one than the first three — had become a multiple major winner at a younger age than Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and all but four players in golf history.
Those four were Young Tom Morris in the 1860s, John McDermott and Gene Sarazen just before and after the First World War and Seve Ballesteros.
As satisfying as all that is, McIlroy took extra pleasure in winning so emphatically so soon after questions were being asked about where his career was heading — not surprisingly given he missed four halfway cuts in five
starts. “A few people in this room were probably pressing panic buttons for no reason,” the biggest young talent in the game told a crowded press conference. “I don’t think I could have answered it in any better way — and yeah, to be honest, it did motivate me.
“I did want to go out there and prove a few people wrong.
“That’s what I did. It took me all of four weeks to get my game back in shape and get out of my mini slump — and this is the result.
“To sit up here and see this trophy and call myself a multiple major champion... not many people have done it and I’m very privileged to join such an elite list of names.”
McIlroy, who left the rest for dead in the first golf tournament to have 99 of the world’s top 100 playing in it, smiled when reminded he had just taken a record off Nicklaus.
“I don’t care if I win by one or by eight — I just want to win — but it’s nice to break a record like that, especially of Jack Nicklaus.”
Tiger Woods earns Ryder Cup spot
South Carolina: Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar grabbed the seventh and eighth spots as the final round of the PGA Championship capped the points table for selecting the US team for the Ryder Cup. Woods, who was chasing his 15th career major title, shot a final round even-par 72 to finish in a tie for 11th at two-under 288.
The year’s fourth major championship is the final qualifying event for those wanting to earn one of eight automatic qualifications into the American team. Mickelson nailed down the No 8 spot and he was assured of making it onto the team when neither Bo Van Pelt nor Steve Stricker could make a charge in Sunday's final round of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course. Tiger Woods led the standings and Bubba Watson finished second. Also qualifying were Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Zach Johnson. Dufner, Bradley and Simpson will be making their Ryder Cup debuts. USA captain Davis Love will announce his four wild card picks on September 4. The Ryder Cup takes place September 28-30 at Chicago’s historic Medinah course.