WHEN RORY MCILROY won the US Open last year, I wrote that it would be the one against which we would measure all (or any) subsequent Major Championships that the Northern Irishman would add to his locker. It was that good.
The USPGA Championship victory at Kiawah Island on Sunday wasn’t far off. The second-round 75 wasn’t his best, but he dominated the weekend just as he did at Congressional a shade over a year ago.
The way he was wielding the 14 instruments in his golf bag, nobody was going to catch him on Sunday. He may have only had a two-stroke lead as the final round got underway, but it would have taken an extraordinary turn of events for him not to end Sunday with both hands on the Wannamaker trophy. He was surgical, ruthless, unrelenting.
Ian Poulter is a man not shy of a charge – he had a big one to start his day, posting five birdies in a row and six in his first seven holes. Could he produce a miracle? He was probably the only man who believed he could, but he was the only one who needed to believe.
Unfortunately for the Englishman, a pair of bogeys put and end to his hopes, and then it was open country for McIlroy. It was his to lose.
But he was never going to lose it. He was in control. He may have had a couple of seemingly loose shots over the final nine, but he was playing safe and knew what he needed to get it done.
Don’t get me wrong though, the Sunday round would have been far from easy for him. It was imperative for him to get off to a solid start, even more so when Poulter started charging up the leaderboard.
His start was better than solid. He birdied numbers two and three. Momentum gained, confidence gained, and a marker laid down to the rest of the field – I’m going to make this as tough for you as possible.
Carl Pettersson huffed and puffed, but was ultimately undone by a penalty for grounding his club in a hazard.
Adam Scott tried his best to atone for Lytham St Annes, but again the Sunday of a Major Championship was not to be his day.
Expectation was high for Tiger Woods in his famous red, but he flattered to deceive as his putter, so often the magic wand that directed him towards spell-binding victories, let him down yet again. How he will rue his weekend performances at this year’s Majors.
Yes, this day was all about one man: Rory McIlroy.
Crowned World Number One earlier in the year, inconsistency had enveloped him since then. He was missing cuts. Was his personal life getting in his way, they asked? What was the source of his golfing frustrating?
Immaterial. Can a 23-year-old not enjoy his life as well as his game?
When December comes around and he looks back at the year, all he’ll think about will be Sunday August 12th, as he raised the trophy on the 18th green at Kiawah Island. No doubting he’ll want more.
And there’s even more golf over the coming weeks to stoke the fires burning within him. More chances to win, more battles that he will relish.
First up is the FedEx Cup. Woods leads, but Rory’s now in winning mode. Not the same glamour as a Major Championship, but the FedEx series could well be the scene for the unfolding of a great McIlroy v Woods battle that we have all been waiting for.
That narrative is sure to dominate the idle talk and chatter as we move through the rainbow towards the giant pot of gold at the end of the Tour Championship.
Dare we even mention the Ryder Cup?