• US PGA Championship, Round Four

McIlroy makes history with second major title

ESPN staff
August 12, 2012

US PGA Championship leaderboard

For the second time in his fledgling career, Rory McIlroy won a major championship at a canter as he claimed the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island on Sunday.

The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland supplanted Tiger Woods as the third youngest double major-winner of the modern era (behind only Seve Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus) with his eight-shot victory on the Ocean Course, after winning the US Open by the same dominant margin in 2011.

After returning on Sunday morning to complete his third round, McIlroy opened a gap over the field after concluding a round of 67 - before continuing his forward progress as his rivals fell away over the final 18 holes with a glittering round of 66.

As a result, he will also return to world No. 1 when the revised rankings are officially announced on Monday.

"I don't think I've let it sunk in yet - I'm speechless," McIlroy said afterwards. "I played solid the whole way through the week

"It's just been incredible, been an incredible week. I had a good feeling about it at the start. But I never imagined it to be this.

"To look at the names on that trophy and to put my name besides them is something very special. I'm just going to enjoy this."

English journeyman David Lynn was second at five-under, with compatriots Justin Rose and Ian Poulter, Carl Pettersson and defending champion Keegan Bradley all rising through the field after solid last day showings to slot inside the top five at four-under.

On a hectic final day of action, McIlroy fleetingly faced challenges from rivals around the course - most notably Poulter, but briefly the likes of Rose, Pettersson and, for at least the first few holes, Tiger Woods - but by the back nine was comfortably in control of the tournament, allowing him to play the percentages after some wayward tee shots to save pars and, on holes where his driver was behaving, pick up on further shots on the field.

He was helped by a precise putting touch - which was never more obvious than at the last, where he rolled in a 35-footer for birdie to seal the win before playing partners Pettersson and Bo Van Pelt had even had the chance to clear the stage for him.

Both men were out of the running almost immediately - with Pettersson suffering a retrospective two-shot penalty on the first hole after television replays showed him grounding his club in a hazard. The Swede - still hoping to get a wildcard for Europe's Ryder Cup team next month - fought back valiantly to get within striking distance on the back nine, but ultimately left himself with too much work to do as he eventually was forced to settle for a top-five finish.

It was Poulter, in fact, who looked most likely to steal the Wanamaker Trophy from McIlroy's grasp. The major-less Englishman started his fourth round with five birdies in his first five holes - reaching eight-under for his day before his form deserted him down the stretch. He eventually shot 69.

Other big name players were similar disappointments. Adam Scott never really played his way into the running (eventually finishing two-under), with the same difficulty striking Graeme McDowell. Woods, on the other hand, started brightly - but his putting touch deserted him whenever it was most needed as he was eventually forced to settle for a level par round and two-under finish for the tournament.

In truth, however, it was all about McIlroy - just as it was at Congressional barely 12 months ago. He had three birdies on either nine as he avoided a dropped shot entirely - allowing him the freedom to stroll down the 18th fairway to the adulation of the crowd.

His place in golf's pantheon is now all-but assured - with a couple of exceptions, only great golfers have ever won two major titles - but he will want to kick on and keep adding to his legacy over the next few years.

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