Rory McIlroy claimed his fourth career major championship with a rollercoaster victory at Valhalla.
Rory McIlroy was forced to putt out in the dark to claim what was a wild, rollercoaster 2014 US PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.
McIlroy led by a shot coming into the final round but was quickly overtaken by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Phil Mickelson. Rickie Fowler who had finished in the top-5 at the previous three majors in 2014 also grabbed a share of the lead and by the turn it appeared as if McIlroy was all but out of contention.
But it was an incredible eagle on the 10th hole from the Northern Irishman than changed the course of the tournament.
Three shots behind the leaders and facing a 281-yard approach shot at the par-5 10th hole, McIlroy elected to hit a 3-wood and reach the green in two; something no one else had been able to do during the final round.
The 3-wood appeared to come out of the heel a little but it tracked to the green perfectly and nestled 10-feet from the hole. McIlroy knocked in the eagle putt to get back to within a shot of the lead and regain his confidence.
McIlroy grabbed a share of the lead with birdie on the 13th hole and after bogeys to Fowler and Stenson on the 14th, and a bogey to Mickelson on the 16th, McIlroy was suddenly the sole leader. A superb, birdie on the 17th after finding the bunker gave The Open Champion a two shot buffer going into the final hole, and the sunset.
After a long rain delay in the morning, and tournament organisers sending players out in the traditional pairings off one tee, it looked to be touch and go whether the event would see a Sunday finish.
In a sign of great sportsmanship, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson allowed McIlroy to hit up on the final hole to make sure he would complete his round.
He did so, but barely.
McIlroy’s drive came within metres of the water hazard on the par-5 18th hole. After Mickelson almost chipped in for a miraculous eagle, McIlroy found himself on the green in three, in almost complete darkness, and needing two putts to win the US PGA Championship.
It would have been grossly unfair had he three-putted in the conditions but McIlroy calmly lagged his first putt to within inches and tapped in for his fourth career major.
Australian hopes faded with the light as Jason Day couldn’t make any in-roads on the lead and in trying to force birdies, carded a disappointing 1-over par final round to finish in a tie for 15th place.
Adam Scott will also be disappointed with his major championship also finishing in a tie for 15th place; his fourth top-15 finish in the majors this year.
McIlroy’s victory means that at just 25-years of age, he has won four majors. He is the fourth youngest to do so behind Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus. McIlroy is just nine months older than when Woods achieved the same feat and just a few months older than The Golden Bear.
Can we call this a an era now? The McIlroy era?