HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf’s oldest trophy.
On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.
In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.
And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.
“I’m immensely proud of myself,” McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. “To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam … yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly.”
He had to work a little harder than he wanted for this one.
Staked to a six-shot lead going into the final round, McIlroy turned back every challenge. He made two key birdies around the turn, and delivered a majestic drive at just the right moment to close with a 1-under 71 and complete his wire-to-wire victory.
In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.
After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later.
Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he’s just getting started again.
McIlroy won by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to become the first start-to-finish winner since Woods at St. Andrews in 2005. Even with one major left this year, the Northern Irishman already is looking ahead to Augusta National next April for a shot at the slam.
SYLVANIA, Ohio (AP) – Seventeen-year-old Lydia Ko broke free from a late tie with So Yeon Ryu, hitting a wedge to 4 feet for birdie on the 72nd hole to win the Marathon Classic.
She became the youngest player to top $1 million in career earnings on the LPGA Tour.
Ryu had poured in a big-breaking, 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th to pull even.
But then Ko stuck her approach at the par-5 closing hole and calmly rolled in the birdie putt for a 6-under 65 that left her at 15-under 269. It was her second LPGA win as a pro to go with the two Canadian Open titles she grabbed as an amateur.
Ryu pushed a 6-footer at the 18th that would have forced a playoff.
Ko was resilient, also shrugging aside a challenge from veteran Cristie Kerr, who pulled into a tie with her on the homeward nine.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Steve Wheatcroft rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Steven Alker and win the Albertsons Boise Open.
The pair battled back and forth at Hillcrest Country Club and were tied at 24 under after regulation play.
Wheatcroft watched as Alker’s 30-foot birdie try stopped a couple feet short of the cup and then stepped up and made his putt.
STATELINE, Nev. (AP) – Mark Rypien beat out Jeremy Roenick and Annika Sorenstam to win the weather-delayed American Century Celebrity Golf Championship.
Rypien took the title for the first time since winning the inaugural event in 1990.
Lightning storms delayed play for more than three hours.
Rypien ran away from Roenick and Sorenstam, putting up big Stableford points on his back nine, going 5 under for a record-breaking third-round total of 33 points and 76 throughout the three-day event at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
After finishing in second place in the past two years, Rypien broke through with a win in the 25th anniversary of the tournament.