Wednesday, July 23
McIlroy closed with a 1-under 71 at Royal Liverpool to end at 17-under-par 271. He now owns three legs of the grand slam, having already won the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open.
The Ulsterman's lead dipped to two a couple of times, but he 2-putted for par at the last to seal the wire-to-wire win.
"It's been an incredible week. I'm happy I gave myself enough of a cushion today because there was a lot of guys coming at me. Especially Sergio (Garcia) and Rickie (Fowler). It obviously hasn't sunk in yet, but I'm going to enjoy it and let it sink in tonight," McIlroy said.
"To sit here at 25 years of age and win my third major championship, 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."
Garcia fired a 6-under 66 to join Fowler in second place at minus-15. Garcia had gotten within two earlier on the back nine, but left a shot in a bunker at 15 and that led to a bogey. He birdied 16 and 18 to get back within two again.
Fowler birdied three of the last four to rally and join Garcia in second place. The 2012 Wells Fargo Championship winner closed with a 5-under 67. Fowler posted his third top-5 finish in a major this season.
Garcia birdied three of the first five to move within five. Around the turn, he drained a 14-footer for eagle on No. 10 and he was suddenly two back.
McIlroy birdied the same hole to push his lead back to three. He dropped a shot on 13 after missing the green to the left. He was three clear with five to go.
Garcia tripped to a bogey at 15 and was three back with three to go. The Spaniard birdied two of the last three, but it was not enough to catch McIlroy.
Jim Furyk matched the low round of the day with his 7-under 65. He grabbed fourth place at 13-under 275. Marc Leishman also fired a 65 to join his countryman and world No. 1 Adam Scott (66) in fifth place at minus-12.
Shane Lowry (10-under 278) and Chris Wood (5-under 283) also shot 67s on Sunday.
Last year's champion Phil Mickelson carded a 4-under 68 to end his title defense at 5-under-par 283. He shared 23rd place.
Five-time champion Tom Watson closed with a 68 of his own, in what likely will be his next-to-last Open Championship. He tied for 51st at plus-1.
Tiger Woods, a three-time Open champion, stumbled to a 3-over 75 and ended in 69th place at 6-over 294. That was his worst finish as a professional in a major.
While Woods and U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer (79) struggled, eight of the last 10 players to tee off on Sunday broke par, and the other two shot even- par rounds.
Garcia made the biggest early move of McIlroy's challengers. Garcia birdie one and three, before tapping in a short birdie effort on the fifth. That moved Garcia to 12-under, where he was five back.
McIlroy birdied the first from just inside 18 feet, then parred his next three holes. He had birdied the fifth the first three rounds, but found the right rough off the tee and also hit his second into the right rough.
He blasted to the left fringe, then left himself 12 feet for par. McIlory missed that putt and his lead was down to four. His tee shot on the par-3 sixth missed the green to the left. He chipped inside five feet, but missed the par putt.
McIlroy's lead was down to three. He pushed that back to four with a 15-foot birdie putt on the ninth. Garcia responded as he rolled in a 14-footer at the 10th for eagle.
In the group behind Garcia, McIlroy 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 10th to move three ahead.
"The stretch of holes today - seven, eight, nine and 10 - were a big stretch of holes for me today. Getting that up and down on seven, I played two really good shots into the eighth hole, and then the birdie on nine and the birdie on 10, especially with Sergio pushing and making eagle there," McIlroy said. "I kept me a couple of shots to the good and I could feel a little more comfortable on the back nine."
He missed the 13th green left, failed to get up and down, and his margin was down to two again.
The big turning point for Garcia was the 15th. He found sand off the tee, and left his second shot in the bunker. Garcia managed to get up and down for bogey, but he was three back with three to go.
"I just tried to get too cute. I could see that it was a little bit of a down slope and I thought if I just get it a couple yards out of the bunker, the down slope and maybe I could hole it. Maybe I just decelerated a little bit and got too cute," Garcia said of his first bunker shot. "Unfortunately, I made bogey, but I thought I played a nice last three holes."
Garcia 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 16th, but McIlroy did the same. Garcia did the same at the 18th to get within two.
McIlroy missed the 17th green, but chipped to a foot and kicked that in for par. He hit iron off the 18th tee and found sand with this approach. McIlroy blasted to about 10 feet and 2-putted for the win.
Fowler, who played alongside McIlroy, birdied the second to go with eight pars on the front nine. Around the turn, he 2-putted for birdie on the par-5 10th to get within five.
The U.S. Open runner-up caught fire down the stretch. He poured in a 20-footer for birdie on 15 and made a 4-footer at 16 and was three back. Fowler closed with a birdie at the last to share second.
"Getting to the back nine, that is where the tournament really starts. I made a good birdie at 10, and he (matched me). I knew once we turned and went back into the wind from 11 on, if I could play under par and maybe make some good swings, maybe I could put a little bit pressure on (McIlroy)," said Fowler. "But he drove the ball pretty well all day. He was tough to catch."
NOTES: The win for McIlroy was his seventh on both the PGA and European Tours ... McIlroy joins Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the third player to win three legs of the grand slam by the age of 25 ... Kaymer went wire-to-wire to win the U.S. Open earlier this year, and McIlroy made it two straight majors in which the winner went wire-to-wire. That is the first time two straight majors have been won in that fashion ... This was also McIlroy's second straight wire-to-wire win in a major ... The European Tour heads to Moscow next week for the Russian Open, where Michael Hoey won last year. The PGA Tour will be in Quebec for the Canadian Open, where Brandt Snedeker is the defending champion.