McIlroy wins PGA Championship for second career major

Rory McIlroy reacts after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the PGA...

Rory McIlroy reacts after sinking a birdie putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., Aug. 12, 2012. (CHRIS KEANE/Reuters)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:52 PM ET

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - Whether or not you believe that Rory McIlroy is, or will be, golf's next dominant superstar, it is simply enough to marvel at the sheer genius of his two major championship victories to this point.

At 22, McIlroy lapped the field at the U.S. Open at Congressional in 2011 in a tour de force. Sunday, at the age of 23, and younger even than Tiger Woods was when he won his second major, McIlroy's performance shone even more brightly.

On The Ocean Course, perhaps the most difficult golf course on this continent, McIlroy grinded out his second bogey-free round of this PGA Championship on his way to an eight-shot victory, towering over a field that included 99 of the top 100 players in the world.

Once he got the scent of victory on Saturday afternoon, early in the third round, he continued to separate himself from the field. Others may have made more birdies but when push came to shove, nobody made fewer bogeys.

"You know, he's lapped the field twice now," said Padraig Harrington, who finished tied for 18th.

"The only person that's ever done that in majors in my time has been Tiger. (McIlroy) has done it twice now."

Throughout the final round, various players scuttled up and down the leaderboard but McIlroy was always there way up above the crowd, unassailable, playing for all the world as if he was in his own private bubble. He put an exclamation point on his runaway win by making an 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to shoot 66 and break the record for largest margin of victory in a PGA Championship, previously held by Jack Nicklaus.

"He's going to be the player that kids measure their own wannabe games by," said fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell. "Ten years ago it was Tiger Woods. It still is Tiger Woods to a certain extent, but now we've got superstars like Rory for kids to be looking at. I mean, with a great attitude and great charisma and great character."

At the end, journeyman professional David Lynn, from England, sneaked into second place with two birdies on the final three holes to get to five-under par. McIlroy finished the tournament at 13 under. Poulter, Pettersson, Justin Rose and Keegan Bradley finished tied for third at four under.

"We all know the talent he has," said Woods, who finished in a tie for 11th after a final-round 72.

"He went through a little spell this year, and I think that was good for him. We all go through those spells in our careers, and you know, he's got all the talent in the world to do what he's doing. And this is the way that Rory can play. When he gets it going, it's pretty impressive to watch."

Perhaps appropriately, McIlroy's win Sunday vaulted him to back into No. 1 in the world golf rankings, passing Woods and Luke Donald in the process.

McIlroy made his big move early in the third round when he birdied five of the first eight holes, leaving the golf course after Saturday's rain delay tied with Vijay Singh at six-under par.

When the third round resumed under near-perfect conditions Sunday morning, McIlroy had nine holes yet to play, while Singh had 10 holes left. While McIlroy didn't exactly light up the board in those nine holes, he did manage to gain another shot to par, finishing at seven under. Singh, however, made a complete hash of it, with four bogeys and a double on his way to a back nine of 40, eventually finishing tied for 22nd.

That left McIlroy, supremely confident, with a three-shot lead on Pettersson heading into the final round Sunday afternoon. He birdied two of the first three holes to separate himself further.

Ian Poulter started the day six shots behind McIlroy, closed ground with five consecutive birdies and eight of the first 12 and narrowed the lead to two shots at one point, but he fell off the map with three straight bogeys on the back nine.

McIlroy scorched the difficult back nine with a three-under-par 33 and nobody ever got close after the 12th.

"At this stage, people could be saying I was right when I was saying he could challenge Jack (Nicklaus, who won 18 majors)," said Harrington.

"You've got to start when you're young; if you're going to win one a year, that's one each of the last two years. So to get to Tiger's 14 or Jack's 18, you really do have to start doing it when you're in your early 20s, because they don't come around as easy as people think they do.

"You know, it's prolific to win one a year, so he has another 20 years ahead of him, maybe 25 years of golf."

Those kinds of accolades may indeed come true. For the moment, let's just admire this one.


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