Rory McIlroy became the youngest player to ever win the PGA Championship, over the weekend, by annihilating the field at the fabulous Kiawah Island Ocean Course just outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
The 23-year and 3-month old McIlroy played flawless golf over the weekend and regained his position as golf’s top-ranked player in the world after what would be considered a tough season by his standards.
Last year at Congressional, the “kid” from Northern Ireland showed the world the type of potential he has by winning the US Open, eight shots clear, and shattering every previous US Open scoring record you can find. The golf world did the youngster no favors by anointing him as “the next Tiger Woods” after winning just his first major championship.
Since then, and for most of the 2012 season, McIlroy has struggled. He hadn’t finished better than tied for 40th in a major all season and missed the cut badly at the US Open. He even went through a stretch, in the middle of the season, where he missed three straight cuts. By comparison, Woods missed zero cuts in a stretch spanning seven years, 142 straight weeks, from February 1998 to May 2005.
This week at Kiawah Island, though, McIlroy proved that the 2011 U.S. Open was certainly no fluke. He caught fire on Saturday and, after getting a very unlucky break on the third hole when his ball got stuck inside a tree branch, he made a fantastic par and was off to the races. McIlroy was tied for the lead with Vijay Singh when the skies opened up and the tournament committee was forced to suspend play.
The weather delay may have hindered the progress of many players who felt that they had finally caught a rhythm only for it to be stopped short by mother nature. McIlroy and the rest of the field had to come back Sunday morning to finish their third round and then come back later in the day to start round four. It is a less than ideal scenario for someone who had finally grooved his swing.
Rory came back Sunday morning just as he had left off on Saturday. He ended up shooting -5 for the third round and held a three-shot lead heading into the afternoon. He kept his foot on the gas pedal and, just like the 2011 U.S. Open, the action was nonexistent.
He played “boring golf” which, to a golfer, is the best type of golf you can play. No excitement, no wayward shots, nothing spectacular except for the ability to hit good shot after good shot, and nobody had a chance to catch him. The outcome was never in doubt. The kid was in the zone.
When it was all said and done, McIlroy finished at -13 after finishing with style with a birdie on the final hole of the tournament. He finished eight shots better than anyone else in the field and hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy -- the second major championship trophy of his career.
Joe Fries is a sports writer and golf pro living in Indiana. You can follow him on Twitter @The7thFreezer.
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