RORY McILROY bounced back to his brilliant best as he ended a 553-day wait for a win with a one shot victory at the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy shot a superb final round 68 – despite providing some final hole drama by tugging his tee shot shot into a ditch – to clinch his third victory at Quail Hollow.
Rory McIlroy ended his long wait for a title as he won the Wells Fargo Championship[/caption]
The Northern Irishman shot a superb final round of 68[/caption]
The penalty drop at the last cost him his only bogey, but it did not matter as the former world No 1 had a two shot cushion, and knew there was no need for heroics.
And this overdue win will provide the perfect confidence boost as he heads down the coast to another of his favourite courses next week, aiming to end his seven year drought in the Majors.
He said: “It’s never easy to win. It’s felt like a long time since that victory in China.
“The world is a very different place.
“It’s just feels awesome and this is one of my very favourite places in the world and to break the drought here is just awesome.
“I need the fans, I feed off this.”
The four-time Major champion’s next outing will be in the USPGA Championship at Kiawah Island – where he won the same event by a staggering eight shots the last time it was played there, in 2012.
A first victory since the 2019 HSBC Champions event was also the perfect belated birthday present for McIlroy, who spent his 32nd birthday here two days before the tournament began.
McIlroy celebrates with his wife Erica and their daughter Poppy[/caption]
He has had plenty to celebrate at Quail Hollow over the years, after opening his PGA Tour account in this event in 2010, and winning it again in 2015.
McIlroy arrived in North Carolina this time with his game in disarray, after failing to make the weekend in his last three starts.
He missed the cut at the Players Championship and the Masters, and also failed to reach the knockout stages of the World Match Play.
But hiring renowned coach Pete Cowen to iron out his swing has paid rich dividends – and has also sparked a big improvement in his putting.
McIlroy made all 52 of his putts from six feet and closer, and shrugged off a one over par 72 in the opening round to prove he is still a Major contender..
The Ulsterman started the final round two shots behind playing partner Keith Mitchell – but the gap was immediately stretched to three as the American birdied the first hole, despite finding a bunker off the tee.
McIlroy celebrates in front of a packed crowd at Quail Hollow[/caption]
McIlroy drives off the tee during his fine round on Sunday[/caption]
But Mitchell stumbled with back-to-back bogeys on five and six, while his nearest challengers birdie at the third brought them level.
And the lead changed hands as the final pair suffered mixed fortunes on the long seventh.
McIlroy had to lay up after driving into the left rough, and left himself almost 25 feet for birdie, while Mitchell hit the green in two, but was faced with a 65 footer for eagle.
Mitchell made a hash of his first effort and had to settle for a three putt par, while McIlroy nailed his birdie putt, even though he had to allow at least six feet of break to find the hole.
It was all square again when Mitchell finally made his second birdie at the short 13th, but McIlroy responded like a champion.
Back-to-back birdies at 14 & 15 meant he took a welcome two shot lead into the famous Green Mile – the daunting three hole stretch before players reach the comfort of the clubhouse at Quail Hollow.
Mitchell could not keep pace, and dropped back into a tie for third, three shots behind the three-time champion.
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Mexico’s Abraham Ancer had set the clubhouse target with birdies at three of the last four holes, earning him a 66 that saw him finish the week at nine under par.
But McIlroy was able to give back a shot at the last and still clinch an emotional victory.
Make no mistake – Rory is back!