10 of the best: Rory finishes in style at the K Club

Mark McGowan

Rory McIlroy's shot to the 16th (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

With the Horizon Irish Open set to get underway in a few day’s time at the K Club, we’re counting down our top-10 from years gone by…..

2. Rory finishes in style at the K Club – 2016

With the Irish Open struggling for funding and player support, Rory McIlroy took it upon himself to act as tournament host for four straight years, travelling to play in events as far away as South Africa retuning the favour for those who came to support the event during his years as the de facto chief. During this period, the prize money rose to $7 million, with names like Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler lending big name support.


But with all that hosting entailed, McIlroy’s own performances often fell a long way short of the standard he’d become accustomed to weekly on the European and PGA Tours. The coup de grace, however, came at the K Club in 2016 in the damp and blustery conditions that traditional logic would suggest he struggles.

Two fairway woods from the top drawer would see him first take control of and then finish off Scotsman Russell Knox who, for long stretches on Sunday, had threatened to spoil the party.

Knox birdied 14 and 15 to jump into a one-shot lead, but the tournament turned on its head at the par-five 16th as McIlroy laced a three-wood to the heart of the green and two-putted for birdie, while Knox again needed three putts to get down and walked off with a bogey six. Shortly before, Martin Kaymer who’d just finished had claimed that, given the rain and the headwind, nobody would be reaching 16 in two. And save for McIlroy, he was right.

The 5-wood to tap-in distance for a closing eagle was sublime, and in the absence of context the more obvious choice for highlight reels, but as the man will tell you himself, the 3-wood to 16 was the better of the two. Victory was all but sewn up by the time he’d reached the 18th fairway, but it was all on the line on 16 and he produced a drive and 3-wood that nobody else in the field was capable of and the resulting birdie provided the platform for the relative victory procession on 18.

Despite all that he’s done for the Irish Open and Irish golf in general, Rory’s decision to play in Scotland as opposed to Ireland in preparation for the 2019 Open at Portrush remains as controversial and potentially ill-advised as ever, but anybody clinging to the negativity of that would do well to remember that prior to McIlroy and the Rory Foundation’s support, the event was on its knees.

Then there’s the small matter of him donating his entire winnings – all €666,660 of it – to the Rory Foundation.

And if you want to get an idea of Rory’s appeal? Just head to the K Club this week and see the crowds following the world number two. Tiger Woods aside, there’s no bigger draw in world golf than the Holywood man.

This one meant a lot to McIlroy (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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