Hoylake: Rory McIlroy suffered several anxious moments but kept the jitters in check to rubber-stamp his status as the newest golfing great by landing the first British Open title of his career on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Northern Irishman watched Sergio Garcia (66) cut his overnight lead from six strokes to two before repelling the last-round charge by his European Ryder Cup teammate to land his third major in a tantalising finish at Royal Liverpool.
McIlroy returned a closing 71 for a 17-under total of 271 to become the third youngest player in history to capture three of the four majors, following Jack Nicklaus (23) and Tiger Woods (24).
“It wasn’t easy today and I just needed to stay focused, in the present and keep my concentration,” he said after picking up the coveted Claret Jug and a first prize of £975,000.
“The lead never got less than two shots so I always thought I had a little bit of a cushion. To be three legs towards the grand slam is a pretty good achievement and it feels incredible.”
Garcia doffed his cap, patted his heart and blew kisses to the crowd after clinching what ultimately would be a fourth second-place finish at a Major. He said, “Everyone looks at a second (place) and wants to make it a negative, but I did almost everything I could.”