Rory McIlroy dominated the 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool and deservedly became Champion Golfer of the Year for the first time.
Only an exciting final-day charge from Sergio Garcia (66), with an eagle at the 10th before leaving his ball in a bunker at the 15th, and Rickie Fowler finishing fast for a 67 cut McIlroy’s winning margin to two strokes.
Though his overnight six-stroke lead dwindled alarmingly early in the round, he held firm with a steady 71 good enough for a 17-under-par total of 271.
McIlroy became the third Northern Irish winner after Fred Daly, also at Hoylake in 1947, and Darren Clarke (2011).
At 25 years and 77 days, McIlroy was the third-youngest player to achieve the third leg of the modern Grand Slam at the time, after Jack Nicklaus (23 years, 181 days) and Woods (24 years, 171 days). He was also the seventh player to lead outright after every round.
Remarkably, that was the second time he had won a major wire-to-wire, having done so at the 2011 US Open at Congressional.
An opening 66 was followed by another six-under effort, before a 68 on the third day. He had been briefly caught by Fowler but responded with two eagles in the last three holes, a five-iron to 11 feet and a superb approach at the 18th.
Saturday’s round was notable for being the first ever in the history of The Open to be conducted with a two-tee start as play was brought forward due to the threat of a thunderstorm.
After sealing Sunday victory, McIlroy said: “It wasn’t easy. There were a few guys who were making a run at me so I had to stay focused and get the job done.”
There was a hug for his mother, Rose, as he walked off the 18th green. She had not been present at either of his previous major victories and at the prize-giving he brought the house down by saying: “This one’s for you, mum.”