Rory McIlroy heads to this week’s U.S. Open in the greatest form possible after storming his way to a sensational final round of 61 for a seven-shot victory in the RBC Canadian Open.
McIlroy, despite a closing hole bogey, absolutely destroyed the field, winning with a 22-under par victory tally and he also smashed the tournament record by five shots on the Hamilton course.
Fellow Irishman Shane Lowry wrapped-up his PGA Tour card for next year in shooting a closing 67 to finish second and he was joined there, on a distant 15-under par, when Webb Simpson birdied his closing two holes in a score of 68 to tie the Offaly golfer.
The recently-turned 30-year old McIlroy captured a second Tour title this year just four days prior to the start of the U.S. Open in posting a 17thhole eagle, nine birdies including four in a row from the 11th but then spoiling the goal of becoming just the 11th PGA Tour star to break 60 with a bogey on 16th and he also a dropped shot at 18.
Despite letting slip a score of 59, McIlroy now heads to Pebble Beach looking to become the first player in PGA Tour history to win both the week before and also win the U.S. Open.
Just once before has McIlroy won a tournament before a Major and then captured the Major and that was in 2014 in clinching the WGC – Bridgestone Invitational and then lifting the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy in his next event.
In fact, his 2014 PGA Championship triumph at Valhalla was McIlroy’s last Major but now after his Canadian Open win McIlroy could be lifting a second U.S. Open trophy next Sunday on Father’s Day in what would be a long overdue fifth Major.
“I said at the start of the day I was going to go out aggressive and after nearly making eagle at the first that set the tone for the day,” he said.
“I just played with so much freedom over the weekend and more freedom than I’ve had for a while which is exciting as I have been able to win this tournament but exciting also for what’s coming-up ahead.
“Shooting a 59 was definitely in my sights and while those two bogeys over the last three holes were unfortunate, at least I gave myself a chance at it.
“I felt comfortable on this golf course all week even though I had not seen the back-nine before teeing-up in the tournament. I feel good now about my game going to Pebble Beach.
“So, I feel that this week was great preparation coming here to Canada for a first time and going into next week.”
McIlroy emerged from last week’s Memorial horror show, and a what was a first missed cut of the year, crossing into Canada to dominate in all facets of the ancient game. He’s already No. 1 driving on this year’s PGA Tour and was No. 1 in chipping and putting over the final day in suburban Hamilton.
The win is McIlroy’s second this season, his 15th on the PGA Tour and the 25th triumph in his pro career while it’s a first for the Ulster golfer since turning 30 just over a month ago.
Victory, in his first appearance in the Canadian Open, is also McIlroy’s sixth ‘National Open’ title adding to his U.S. Open and Hong Kong Open success in 2011, his come-from-behind 2013 Australian win, 2014 Open Championship win and of course his win on home soil at the 2016 Irish Open.
McIlroy’s win sees him no only heading to Pebble Beach as the new World No. 3 but now a very serious challenger to stop World No. 1 Brooks Koepka winning three US Opens in succession.
McIlroy went into the final day lying in a three-way share of the lead and wasted little time igniting the fireworks.
He got the start he so dearly wanted with a birdie for a second day running at the downhill opening hole hitting a booming 353-yard drive leaving him just 40-yards to the pin.
And McIlroy then had the crowd roaring with delight in landing a wedge to just six-inches to move to 14-under par.
He then went to 15-under par holing a six-footer at the second before moving two shots clear of his rivals with a birdie at four ahead of going four-under for his round when McIlroy birdied the fifth.
McIlroy moved to five-under in landing his 151-yard second shot to six-feet for birdie at the par-4 seventh and then went five shots clear of the field in sinking the sixth birdie of his round, a 10-footer at the par-4 11th hole, before well-and-truly ensuring daylight would finish in second place in birdieing the 12th to move to 20-under par and be six shots clear of the field.
A 10-footer at the par-3 13th sent McIlroy to 21-under and seven strokes clear of Lowry and he was now seeing the hole as a bucket, dramatically sinking a 30-footer for birdie at the par-4 14th for his fourth birdie in a row, and in the process advancing to 22-under.
But just as the golf world was on ’59 Watch’, McIlroy bogeyed the 16th before again keeping the 59-dream alive in landing his second shot at the par-5 17th to three-feet for an eagle ‘3’ and storming to 23-under par.
McIlroy then proudly stroked up the last to chants of ‘Rory, Rory, Rory’ only to find a greenside bunker with his second and needing to hole the shot to shoot 59.
As it turned out, he sent his third some eight-feet by the flag but missed the par-saver.
It was still McIlroy’s career lowest score on the PGA Tour since posting a last round 62 to capture a maiden Tour title at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship.