BOZICH | Summer of Rory ends with McIlroy's fourth major - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Summer of Rory ends with McIlroy's fourth major

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Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship Sunday -- and saved the lid of the Wanamaker Trophy from falling to the ground. Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship Sunday -- and saved the lid of the Wanamaker Trophy from falling to the ground.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Is anybody else embarrassed by how much time we invested obsessing about Tiger Woods' parking spot? I certainly am.

Rory McIlroy has been driving away from the mortals of professional golf for months. McIlroy can park anywhere he wants. He's made the best players on the planet look like they're running on two cylinders. Until further notice, let's put Woods on hold and concentrate on the real best player in the world. McIlroy is the McMan.

On Sunday he parked at the top of the leaderboard of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, closing like California Chrome and beating Phil Mickelson – and sundown -- to the wire by a stroke. McIlroy is the McMan.

McIlroy is not messing around any more. He's as calm as a safecracker and as cold as a debt collector. Mark it down as his second consecutive major and his fourth in the last three years and two months.

The kid is barely old enough to get a discount on his car insurance. He just turned 25 in May. Four majors at 25? That's Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus territory.

This is how good McIlroy is: He even caught the lid of the prestigious Wanamaker Trophy as it started falling toward the 18th green during the post-tournament presentation.

He beat a guy who has won 5 majors (Mickelson), a guy who has finished in the top five in all four majors this year (Rickie Fowler), the soggy conditions (play was stopped for more than an hour by a storm) and finally the darkness (you a needed flashlight to see McIlroy's final putt drop at 8:43 p.m., three gloomy minutes before official sundown).

“Rory is playing some pretty stellar golf,” said Fowler, who finished two strokes behind McIlroy.

Stellar works. So does sensational. And clutch.

This time McIlroy did not do what he did at the Masters three years ago. That was the tournament when McIlroy led the party by four strokes after three rounds. McIlroy was still ahead by a stroke with nine holes to play.

He shot 80, finishing in a tie for 14th.

Ouch. The world has not stopped reminding McIlroy about that moment. They said he would only win on the lead. Maybe now we should stop.

McIlroy wobbled slightly Sunday. He started the final round with a one-stroke lead over his playing partner, Bernd Wiesberger. McIlroy gave one stroke back on the fourth hole and another at the sixth.

When he arrived on the seventh fairway, McIlroy found himself three holes behind Fowler and two behind Mickelson as well as Henrik Stenson.

Uh-oh. Here we go again.

“I think I showed a lot of guts out here,” McIlroy said.

Rory McIlroy of 2014 is not Rory McIlroy of 2011. Rory McIlroy of 2014 is the best player on the planet, the longest hitter, the most determined shot-maker and the most complete competitor.

Roll the video from Number 10, a twisting, 590-yard par-5, the second-longest hole on the course. McIlroy had already cut into the lead by one stroke with a birdie on seven.

Now he made the shot of the day – or maybe the tournament. It was his second shot on 10. McIlroy found himself 281 yards from the flag. He launched a laser that found the left side of the approach, rolled across the green and traveled roughly 281 yards – only 7 feet wide of the pin.

The putt dropped. McIlroy's eagle went on the scoreboard. The dynamic of the tournament changed.

“Yeah, he's good,” Mickelson said. “Really good.”

McIlroy did not officially move into the lead until the 16th hole, when Mickelson missed a short par putt. But by then the roaring Valhalla galleries were starting to understand the inevitable – McIlroy was going to add his name to Woods (2000) and Mark Brooks (1996) as the three guys to win the PGA Championship here.

His birdie putt at 17 left only one piece of suspense. Would the tournament conclude before officials would have to stop play because of darkness?

What do you think happened?

Do you think McIlroy asked for a break to come back Monday morning at 9 in the sunshine?

“No, I wanted to win this thing and get out of here,” McIlroy said. “It's been just incredible. I didn't think in my wildest dreams I'd have a summer like this.”

Call it the Summer of Rory. He can park anywhere he wants to park -- even in Tiger Woods' spot.

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