At one point during Sunday's coronation at Royal Liverpool, Rory McIlroy's lead, which was six at the start of the day, had dwindled to two over Sergio Garcia. But this was no Van de Velde moment in the making. McIlroy was really never threatened on his way to a two-shot British Open win and his third major championship. "I got within two,” Garcia said, “but to me, it never felt that close."
McIlroy now owns three of golf's four crown jewels, and at 25, he's the third-youngest since The Masters began in 1934 to earn the trifecta, trailing only Jack Nicklaus (23) and Tiger Woods (24). Yes, that's the company that McIlroy is now keeping, and he displays the kind of power ball-striking, poise and desire that marked the two legends at similar stages in their careers.
As Woods continues his long, slow fade, it seems that we have entered the Age of Rory. We may never see the kind of dominance that Woods displayed in his prime, when his dreaded A-game left everyone else playing for second, but McIlroy is willing to take the top spot for a test drive. “Golf is looking to someone to put their hand up and try,” said McIlroy. “I want to be the guy who goes on and wins majors and wins majors regularly, wins tournaments. I’ve love to be in that position.”
And the lead story for the 2015 Masters has already been written: McIlroy will look to complete the career Grand Slam at a tournament he seems destined to win. “Looking forward to driving up Magnolia Lane next year,” he said.
Here are the key stats from the weekend at Royal Liverpool:
McIlroy is the 16th player to win at least three of the four major championships. He's the 44th player to win as many as three majors.
Sergio Garcia posted his fourth runner-up finish in his 62nd major appearance. He's tied with Lee Westwood for most major appearances without a win.
McIlroy tied Victor Dubuisson for most greens reached in under regulation, with seven. McIlroy eagled two of the final three holes on Saturday to build what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.
Only one player in the field posted four rounds in the 60s — Rickie Fowler, who went 69-69-68-67 to finish at 15-under, tied with Garcia for second, two shots back. Fowler was second at the U.S. Open and tied for fifth at The Masters. "Going into the year the goal was to be in contention at majors and play well and have chances to win," Fowler said. "And with all the good play, the long-distance goal on that was to be on the Ryder Cup team. With the way I've playing in the majors this year, that's definitely what has given me the opportunity to represent the country."
At 64, Tom Watson shot a final-round 68 to finish at 1-over. He was seven shots better than a player he'll be considering for his Ryder Cup squad, Tiger Woods.
Rory McIlroy's dad, Gerry, and three friends placed a bet of 400 pounds back in 2004 that Rory would win the Open before he turned 26. The quartet will cash a check worth $340,000 for Rory's efforts.