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My Greatest Shot

My Greatest Shot


Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy celebrates after sinking an eagle putt on the 18th at The Open in 2014

So straight is the stretch of fairway that leads to the 18th green at Royal Liverpool that it is reminiscent of an airport runway.

And it was on this strip of manicured fescue that Rory McIlroy’s journey to Open glory took flight in 2014.

Leading by four shots going into the third round, the then-25-year-old saw that seemingly comfortable margin immediately cut in half after a bogey on the 1st.

Dustin Johnston and Sergio Garcia were closing in, though, with McIlroy toiling on the front nine, it was Rickie Fowler who quickly became the chief threat thanks to a flurry of birdies.

McIlroy’s woes continued at the turn as he bogeyed the 12th, allowing Fowler to join him at the top of the leaderboard on 12-under-par. The Northern Irishman’s title tilt was floundering.

But when the titans of any sport are asked a question, they nearly always find the answer.

Out of nowhere, a birdie on 14 got McIlroy’s engine going again, pushing him clear once more. Fowler eventually faltered up ahead, bogeying 14, 16 and 17.

Standing on the tee at the 18th, an inviting par-5, McIlroy knew he had an opportunity to turn the screw; and a typically monstrous drive down the dogleg right left him roughly 220 yards from the pin. Just the runway to negotiate.

Plucking his trusty 5-iron from the bag, McIlroy homed in on the target. With one exquisite swing of the club, he set his shot off towards the Northern Ireland flag at the back of the grandstand.

The ball was in the air for so long, McIlroy even had time to lower onto his haunches as he waited for it to pitch on the green. And pitch it did. Perfectly.

Four bounces later it had rolled to within 10ft of the hole – giving McIlroy the chance to put daylight between himself and the rest of the field.

McIlroy said: “It’s probably one of the best swings I’ve ever made.

“I go back to YouTube and I watch that swing a lot, see if I can learn anything.

“That eagle gave me that six-shot cushion. It was really important.”

It was, quite simply, the shot of a Champion.