Northern Ireland Golfer Rory Mcllroy Wins The US Open

At the close of play Saturday night, Englishman Lee Westwood was eight shots behind 22-year-old Rory McIlroy, his friend and Ryder Cup teammate, when someone asked him if he thought he was now playing for second place. Westwood bristled noticeably and said “No, they don’t give trophies away on Fridays and Saturdays.”

But they do on Sundays, and after a brilliant four-day display of spectacular driving and pinpoint iron play, there was McIlroy on the 18th green in fading light accepting the trophy emblematic of his historic and popular record-breaking victory in the 111th U.S. Open at rain-softened Congressional Country Club.

McIlroy became the youngest Open champion in 88 years, he was on virtual cruise control all afternoon.  He birdied two of his first four holes to take away any suspense, nearly had a hole-in-one at No. 10 and most of the day took one long victory march, with constant standing ovations from massive galleries.

This time, there was no final-round fade for the curly-locked lad from Holywood, Northern Ireland. He produced a rock-solid round of 69 and shattered several long-standing Open records in the process of securing his first major championship victory two months after he botched a four-shot, 54-hole lead at the Masters with a final-round 80.

His 268 total was a record 72-hole score by four shots, and his 16-under-par total was four better than the 12-under mark set by Tiger Woods in the 2000 Open at Pebble Beach. Woods won that event by 15 shots, perhaps a record that may never be broken. But McIlroy was more than happy to prevail this day by eight shots over runner-up Jason Day (68-276), a 23-year-old Australian who also tied for second at the Masters in April.

“The whole week has been incredible,” McIlroy said on the 18th green. “I couldn’t have asked for much more. I played great for four days and I couldn’t be any happier.” Later he added: “I hope in the not-too-distant future I’d like to call myself a multiple-major champion.”

Along his merry way, McIlroy had the lowest 36- and 54-hole scores and became the first man in the 111-year history of the event to get to 13-under par at any point in the tournament, a feat accomplished through his first 35 holes and far surpassed on Sunday. He also is the youngest Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923, at a slightly younger 22.

McIlroy followed his opening-round 65 with a 66 on Friday and then just kept his foot on the petrol all the way. He has now held the lead after seven of the past eight rounds in the two 2011 major championships.

“You can’t beat a guy that’s gone out and played as well as he has this week,” said Day. “… He lapped the field. Just phenomenal golf.”

Early indicator

This was a tournament that began going McIlroy’s way on his 26th hole, when he flew a pitching wedge into the cup from 114 yards out in the fairway Friday to go 10-under, only the fifth player in Open history to go to double digits under par. That clearly was a portent of grander things to come from a young man who grew up in a house about 200 yards from the first tee of the Hollywood Golf Club and started swinging a plastic club as a 2-year-old, often bopping out 40-yard drives with his little stick.

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