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Rory McIlroy Wins PGA Championship

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

McIlroy owns the last two majors to end this season, giving him four for his young career.

Rory McIlroy Wins PGA Championship

In this article…

If anyone needed any reassurance that Rory McIlroy is beginning to take over the PGA Tour, Sunday's PGA Championship win at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky should silence the non-believers. McIlroy erased a three-shot lead on the back nine during the back nine to overtake the likes of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson en route to his second straight major championship and third straight victory.

McIlroy now has four major championships all before his 26th birthday, and while the first two wins were landslides (eight-stroke wins), McIlroy has been tested in his last two wins. At this year's British Open, Rory was dominant all tournament long but had to hold off late charges in the final round to win by two strokes. Yesterday, McIlroy entered the final round ahead by one stroke and didn't have it at the start. He finished +1 after nine and had fallen behind by three strokes to Fowler. 

But this is where McIlroy showed what's going to make a champion for years to come. Many could have crumbled and withered away. McIlroy hadn't faced as much adversity in his other major wins, especially against a field like the one that was ahead of him. Instead, McIlroy eagled the par-five 10th hole and then went two-under to finish out the round, including a huge birdie on the 17th hole to pull ahead for good. McIlroy didn't play his best golf over the course of the weekend, especially on the front nine of the final round, but he did play resilient golf. He dug deep when he didn't have his A-Game, and that's what makes winners.

McIlroy has now won almost every way that you can at a major. He hasn't faced a playoff yet, but we've now seen what happens when he gets backed into a corner. There really won't be anything that can realistically throw Rory off his game now, and that's a scary thought for the rest of the field, especially for a golfer this young who appears to just be entering the prime years of his career.

Here are a couple other thoughts on the PGA Championship:

• The TV ratings for the 2014 PGA Championship were their highest in five years, back when Y.E. Yang came back to defeat Tiger Woods. Even with Woods missing the cut, the incredible play from the rest of the field was enough to captivate home audiences. Players were scoring low and there were several big names in contention all throughout the weekend. It's definitely a good sign for golf, especially with paranoia lurking about what to do after Tiger.

• Phil Mickelson finished second in a major championship for an astonishing ninth time in his career. It's remarkable that he's come close so many times but been left on the alter. Mickelson played tremendously all weekend long, putting in four rounds under 70 and closing with 67 and 66 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. At 44, Mickelson is still right in the thick of it, and it's a testament to McIlroy's toughness that he edged out Phil on Sunday.

• Once again, Rickie Fowler was right in the thick of it at a major championship. Fowler earned his fourth top-five result at a major this season: fifth at the Masters, tied for second at the U.S. Open and British Open, and now tied for third at the PGA Championship. Fowler scored more birdies at a major than any golfer this season. His average finish at majors was fourth, easily higher than any other golfer in the world (McIlroy, by comparison, had an average finish of 8.25 at majors even with his two victories). Fowler is one of those players that is right on the precipice of breaking through, but he has to get by McIlroy to do it. Let's just hope he builds on his incredible season heading into 2015.

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