Rory McIlroy won the US PGA Championship on Sunday – his fourth major championship in 2014.
It was a battle to remember between the current greats of golf, with three players still in contention for the trophy on the final hole. Unlike the previous three championships this year – the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship – there was no runaway winner approaching the 72nd hole.
McIlroy’s eventual win sees him become the third youngest player of the modern era – after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus – to win four of golf’s biggest prizes. He is also the first male golfer to win back-to-back majors since fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington in 2008.
McIlroy battled it out with Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson, who all took a share of the lead over the back half. Despite McIlroy being ahead in the final day, there were signs the golfer was not as on form as he had been when he sailed to victory in the Open Championship last month.
The US competition saw nearly an inch of rain fall on the Valhalla course, water flooding the greens and fairways, forcing a one-hour-and-50-minute delay.
On the penultimate hole, McIlroy found the bunker with his drive, before hitting to within 10ft of the flag and finishing off with a putt for a birdie. The young Northern Irishman now led by two and had nearly secured victory. Fading light was an issue with McIlroy finishing in almost complete darkness.
Following his historic victory, the 25-year-old revealed he was playing the “best golf” of his life, describing his summer as beyond his “wildest dreams”.
Phil Michelson and Rickie Fowler, both in the group ahead of McIlroy, allowed the young golfer to play up behind them in order to beat the fading light, after the rain delay. They both then waited on the side of the 18th green to applaud the new champion.
McIlroy breathed a sigh of relief after sinking his final putt and celebrated on the course with his father Gerry, before being presented with the Wanamaker Trophy.
How some other big names faired the course?
South African golfer, Ernie Els had a streak of four straight birdies, turning in a five-under-par 30.
McIlroy’s playing partner, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, surprised many by being one shot off the lead, but could only manage a 74, making him one of only two men in the top 30 to shoot over par on Sunday. Henrik Stenson started the day four adrift of McIlroy, needing at least a birdie on 18, but his second shot fell into a horrible, muddy lie, meaning he had to settle for par.
The ever elaborately-dressed Ian Poulter, suspected to be the wildcard pick to face the United States in next month’s Ryder Cup, made an early exit from the competition before the real excitement kicked off. Poulter’s 72 at Valhalla, was notable for a triple-bogey seven at the 12th.