Rory McIlroy had six birdies in a bogey-free final round of 66 to win the PGA Championship by a record eight shots, adding a second career Grand Slam title to go with his 2011 U.S. Open victory.
McIlroy, a 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, is four months younger than Tiger Woods was when he captured his second career major at the 1999 PGA Championship.
McIlroy’s eight-stroke win broke Jack Nicklaus’s record victory margin of seven over Andy Bean in 1980 as the largest in the history of the golf season’s final major championship. McIlroy finished with a score of 13-under-par 275, while Englishman David Lynn was second at 5 under.
“It’s been an incredible week,” McIlroy said before he received the Wanamaker Trophy. “I had a good feeling about it at the start. To look at the names on that trophy and to put my name alongside them is very special.”
The win at the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, is the seventh of McIlroy’s career and second of the 2012 season following his victory at the Honda Classic in March. It erases disappointing performances in golf’s three other majors this season.
McIlroy entered the third day of April’s Masters tournament one shot off the lead only to finish 40th after a 5-over 77 in the third round. He then missed the cut in the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, and finished 60th at last month’s British Open. He also held a four-shot lead as he entered the final day of the 2011 Masters before an 8-over 80 in the final round dropped him to 15th.
McIlroy began the final 18 holes today with a three-stroke lead over Sweden’s Carl Pettersson.
After nine holes, England’s Ian Poulter had pulled within two shots of the lead before faltering with three straight bogeys, giving McIlroy a six-shot cushion with six holes remaining. Poulter finished with four bogeys over his final six holes, while McIlroy pulled away.
McIlroy took 24 putts in the final round.
“I got off to a bit of a shaky start. I had a bit of a pill on the second, but I was able to make birdie and from there I settled into it a little bit,” McIlroy said. “I thought my putting today was phenomenal.”
Woods, 36, a four-time PGA Championship winner, finished the tournament 11 shots behind McIlroy after entering the third round tied for the lead. His even-par 72 in the final round followed a 2-over 74 in the rain-delayed third round. Woods did not break par in a weekend round at a major this season and hasn’t won a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods said his chances of winning the tournament were derailed during the third round when he made bogeys on four of the first eight holes. He went from tied atop the leaderboard after 36 holes to five strokes off the lead heading into the final round.
“I was trying to enjoy it, enjoy the process of it,” Woods said. “But that’s not how I play. I play full systems go, all out, intense, and that’s how I won 14 of these things.”
Woods tied for 11th place at 2 under par.
While the 38-year-old Lynn, who won once on the European Tour, shot back-to-back rounds of 68 on the weekend to climb into second place, Pettersson, Poulter, Justin Rose and Keegan Bradley tied for third at 4 under.
“You know, he was just better than everybody, and it was clear to everybody I think,” Pettersson said of McIlroy. “He drives it long, straight, hits his irons great and he chipped and putted awesome. He made every clutch putt out there.”
The tournament was the first major played at the Ocean Course, a Pete Dye-built venue amid sand dunes alongside the Atlantic Ocean. The course previously hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup matches between Europe and the U.S., and the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.
Heavy rain soaked the course early in the week and a late-day thunderstorm yesterday forced the third round to be completed earlier today.