Magnificent McIlroy comes of age

A stunning course record 62 from Rory McIlory allowed him to cruise to victory at the Quail Hollow Championship just two days short of his 21st birthday.

Having scraped his way into the weekend, McIlroy produced a breathtaking 17 birdies and an eagle to finish on 15 under par four strokes clear of world number 2 Phil Mickelson.

Afterwards Mickelson praised the Northern Ireland youngster.

“(It’s) one of the best rounds I’ve seen in a long, long time,” Mickelson said;

“He’s an incredible player, a great talent, a great young man, a great kid. I enjoy being around him. I’m so happy for him. I’m just disappointed it’s at my expense!”

At a time when golf needs a new saviour following the troubles of Tiger Woods, for so long the crowd magnet and standard bearer, this victory was a sign that McIlroy is ready; if not to replace Tiger but to challenge him.

His popularity is evident.  The crowds roared for every one of the incredible 18 shots it took him to complete the last six holes in Quail Hollow, widely regarded as one of the toughest stretches on tour.

Commentators Jim Nantz and David Feherty were in awe of him.  Fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington waited around for several hours after his own to watch McIlroy triumph.

Of all the magnificent shots McIlroy hit over the weekend it was a shot hit on Friday that he deemed the most important, not just of the week but maybe the season.

Lying two shots worse than the projected cut McIlroy fired a four iron on the par five seventh to within six feet and rolled in the putt for an eagle three before paring his last two holes to make the cut on the number.

“Most important shot of the year,” said McIlroy. “I said after the 66 (on Saturday), ‘That could have been the turning point in my season.’ I think (on Sunday) I’ve confirmed that.”

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