Louisville, Ky. • Rory McIlroy stood over a 10-inch putt in gathering darkness to win the PGA Championship as flashes from thousands of camera lit up Valhalla like a rock concert.
Everyone wanted to capture a moment from golf’s latest coronation.
O Rory McIlroy becomes the fourth player in the last century to win four golf majors at 25 or younger. » McIlroy trails by three shots heading into the back nine before rallying for the win, closing with a 68.
In his biggest test, McIlroy played his best golf Sunday to win his second straight major and establish himself as golf’s next star.
And what a stage.
The final major was pure theater with an All-Star cast — Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson all with a share of the lead on the back nine. The final two hours were filled with eagles and birdies, with tension and chaos.
McIlroy never had to sweat so much to win one of golf’s biggest events. And that’s what made this major so much sweeter.
"It is the most satisfying," McIlroy said. "To win it in this fashion and this style, it means a lot. It means that I know that I can do it. I know that I can come from behind. I know that I can mix it up with the best players in the world down the stretch in a major and come out on top."
The final par — the easiest shot he faced all day — gave McIlroy a 3-under 68 to outlast Mickelson by a stroke and beat the darkness that threatened to spoil this show. He became only the fourth player in the last century to win four majors at 25 or younger. The others were Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones, three of the game’s greatest players.
Boy Wonder appears on his way to belonging in that group.
"I didn’t think in my wildest dreams I’d have a summer like this," said McIlroy, only the seventh player to win the last two majors of the year. "I played the best golf of my life. I really gutted it out today."
He finished at 16-under 268, the lowest score to win the PGA in 13 years.
But one of the greatest shows on soggy turf came with a most peculiar ending.
Three shots behind as he stood in the 10th fairway, McIlroy got back in the game with a 3-wood from 281 yards into 7 feet for eagle. He took the outright lead when all three of his challengers eventually made bogey, and finally gave himself some breathing room. With a 9-iron from a fairway bunker to 10 feet for birdie on the 17th, he took a two-shot lead going to the par-5 closing hole.
Because of a two-hour rain delay earlier, darkness was falling quickly and it wasn’t certain McIlroy would be able to finish.
McIlroy was allowed to hit his tee shot before Mickelson and Fowler had reached their drives. Both were only two shots behind, still in the game. McIlroy came within a yard of hitting in a hazard right of the fairway.
Then, the PGA of America allowed McIlroy to hit his second shot. Mickelson and Fowler had to stand to the side of the green.
"We were cool with hitting the tee shot," Fowler said. "We weren’t expecting the approach shots."
Fowler had a 50-foot eagle attempt to tie for the lead. He was well off the mark, and missed the short birdie putt attempt that cost him his third straight runner-up finish in a major. Mickelson was short of the green, and his chip came within inches of dropping for an eagle that would have tied him for the lead.
McIlroy won his first two majors by eight shots at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship. Only a month ago, McIlroy took a six-shot lead into the final round of the British Open and completed a wire-to-wire win with only a brief scare.
This was different.
"I think I showed a lot of guts out there to get the job done," he said.
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