McIlroy Reclaims #1, Woods Withdraws
After sitting through a rain delay that pushed back his tee time by roughly an hour yesterday, Rory McIlroy stormed out in the final pairing at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, OH, birdying the first 3 holes (and 4 of the first 5) to erase the 3 shot lead Sergio Garcia held heading into the final round of the tournament, and claimed his 2nd consecutive tournament win. McIlroy and Garcia were all square at the turn, but McIlroy’s birdie on 11 gave him a one-shot lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. “I just started really, really well,” said McIlroy. “That was an important stretch of the golf tournament. I put some pressure on Sergio early and played another really solid round of golf.”
McIlroy shot a final round 66, while Garcia shot a 1 over par 71. Even Garcia’s course record 61 on Friday wasn’t enough to keep McIlroy from claiming his 2nd straight victory. Just like he did two weeks ago at the British Open, McIlroy was poised, consistent and drove the ball far and accurately throughout on his way to his 2-stroke victory over Garcia, who for the 2nd tournament in a row finished runner up to the 25-year-old from Northern Ireland. “It’s the foundation of my game when I drive it like that,” McIlroy said. “I have a pretty good chance to win most weeks, and I’ve shown that the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, going into Valhalla in good form and I’ll try to get three in a row.” McIlroy finished at 15-under 265 and won $1.53 million, and jumped back to the No. 1 ranked player in the world over Australia’s Adam Scott, reclaiming the position he lost in March of 2013.
Tiger Woods wasn’t around to see McIlroy join him as the only other player to win a major and World Golf Championship event in consecutive weeks. Woods injured his surgically repaired back on the 2nd hole Sunday after attempting an awkward shot atop a bunker and jumping backwards into the sand on his follow through. Woods withdrew after his tee shot on the 9th hole. “It happened on the second hole when I hit my second shot, I fell back into the bunker. I just jarred it, and it’s been spasming ever since,” Woods told a PGA Tour official. “It’s just the whole lower back. I don’t know what happened.”
It’s not clear if Woods will be able to play in the 96th PGA Championship next week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY. But what is becoming clear to the legions of Woods’ fans hoping to see him return to former glory is that dream is becoming more and more of a “pipe dream.” And that a young Irishman is now ready to become “da man.”