• BMW PGA Championship

McIlroy: How the hell did that happen?

Alex Perry at Wentworth
May 25, 2014
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Rory McIlroy looked on Sunday evening like a completely changed man to the one who addressed reporters on Wednesday.

Gone were the slumped shoulders, the distant look and the slowed speech. McIlroy sat behind his latest trophy - his first as a professional in continental Europe - and gazed at it longingly.

When he did speak, he offered a wry smile. "How the hell did this happen?" he said. "I guess it was just meant to be. I can't really explain it - it's been a week of mixed emotions."

McIlroy's modesty is admirable. Here is a man who had missed two cuts in the previous two years and split up with fiancée Caroline Wozniacki just days ago. No one, particularly McIlroy, it seems, gave him a chance.

The unlikeliest of victories

McIlroy came from seven shots behind © Getty Images
  • Rory McIlroy fought back from seven shots behind as he claimed an unlikely PGA Championship victory at Wentworth to end an otherwise difficult week.
  • Read the full report here

The pair's relationship seemed stormy, with rumours of rows and break-ups before McIlroy popped the question in Sydney on New Year's Eve. But it all came crashing down on Wednesday when the Ulsterman released a statement to say the wedding was off.

"Once I got inside the ropes this week it was a release," McIlroy said. "I was on my own and doing what I do best. For four or five hours each day I was in the serenity of my own sanctuary and just concentrating on each shot in hand."

Trailing overnight joint-leader Thomas Bjorn by seven going into the final day, McIlroy completed his biggest ever comeback win with a stunning 66 as the Dane crumbled under the pressure of holding such a large advantage.

Bjorn's co-leader through 54 holes, Shane Lowry, saw his challenge come and go several times before eventually settling for second place at 13-under, one back from his fellow Irishman, while Luke Donald failed to complete the birdie-birdie finish needed to force a play-off.

McIlroy, though, stayed in the zone. "I knew Thomas would do well to shoot under par going into the final round," McIlroy said. "On the 11th tee I took a look at the leaderboard and saw Thomas had triple-bogeyed the sixth.

"I spoke to JP [Fitzgerald, McIlroy's caddie] and he told me if I got to 15-under I would have a chance.

"Fortunately 14-under was good enough and I just could not have envisioned winning a few weeks ago, or, for obvious reasons, even a few days ago.

"But I played well all week and it's great to win this event."

McIlroy added that the heavy overnight rain over the weekend had played into his hands.

"The soft conditions meant the course played longer," he revealed. "Balls weren't bouncing off the fairway into the rough and you could play aggressive target golf around the greens - which is not usually the kind you can play around Wentworth."

When asked how he would celebrate, McIlroy said: "I'm going home to see my mum - I haven't seen her for a couple of weeks - then I'm back over to the States to prepare for the Memorial next week."

"It's been a weird week," he said, as he looked longingly at his new trophy. It's difficult to argue with his conclusion.

Rory McIlroy celebrates his first professional win on British soil © Getty Images

Alex Perry is an assistant editor at ESPN.co.uk. You can follow him on Twitter at @AlexPerryESPN

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