When Rory Mcllroy climbed to number one in the world on the Official World Golf Ranking list in 2012, he seemed to be unstoppable and untouchable. He won the PGA Championship by a record eight shots. He then went on to win two of the four playoff events and claimed both the FedEx Cup title as well as the European Tour’s Race to Dubai crown.
All of a sudden, at number one in the world, the comparisons to Tiger Woods were taking on full steam. Rory ditched his Titelist clubs in favor of Nike and people were calling him the new Tiger and the new heir to the Nike golf throne.
Fast forward two years and Rory has gone through a lot on and off the course. At one point he fell out of the top 10 in the world rankings and looked nothing like the Rory of 2012 when he was blowing the competition away. That was until the last few weeks. Already with five top 10 finishes to his name on the PGA Tour in 2014 (including a playoff loss at the Honda Classic at PGA National) and another three in Europe including a come from behind win at the BMW PGA Championship, Mclrroy has started looking like the Rory of 2012 in his last two events.
Two weeks ago at Royal Liverpool, Rory Mcllroy went wire-to-wire to win the Open Championship and completing 3/4 of the career grand slam. He looked dominant in every aspect of his game and ran away with the Claret Jug never allowing the competition to get closer than a couple shots of him at any point.
After taking the week off to recuperate and celebrate, the Palm Beach Gardens resident picked up right where he left off two weeks ago in England. This time, instead of being chased by Sergio Garcia though, he was the one doing the chasing on Sunday. Starting the day three shots behind Garcia, Mcllroy came out and immediately erased the deficit with birdies on four of his first five holes including the opening with three in a row.
Those four birdies, coupled by a bogey from Sergio at three, resulted in Rory going from three shots down to two shots up. On a roll and with the lead, Mcllroy played par golf down the stretch to not only take his first WGC event, but also regain the number one ranking in the world for the first time since 2012.
“This is better,” he said. “Mentally, I’m really sharp. I didn’t start to think about score. I didn’t think about where I was in the tournament. I just playing shot after shot after shot. So yeah, it’s good.”
Garcia now falls to 0-2 when going head-to-head against Mcllroy in the final paring after shooting a final round 71.
Mcllroy will now turn his focus to the event that gave him his number one ranking back in 2014, the PGA Championship which is being played at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky this week. With the PGA, the FedEX Cup Playoffs, and the Ryder Cup all being held in the next six weeks, Mcllroy is returning to his old form at the perfect time.
“That’s the most pleasing thing about this week is not dwelling about what happened at Hoylake,” he said. “That’s what I’ll have to do after this, as well. I’ve just got to keep moving forward. It’s great to have a chance to try to go there to win three in a row. But if you’d have asked me what I’m proudest of this week, it’s the mindset that I took into here of not being complacent. I wanted to come here and really contend.”
Tiger Woods Withdraws with Back Issues
The other major storyline that came from Sunday was Tiger Woods withdrawing after hitting his tee shot on the ninth hole with an apparent back problem. The problem started for Woods on his second shot on the second hole. Hitting from an awkward lie just above the bunker, Woods hit his shot and stepped back into the bunker, stepping awkwardly and bothering his back. Woods spoke to a member of the PGA Tour’s media after withdrawing to explain what the issue was.
“I just jarred it, and it’s been spasming ever since,” said Woods, who was 3 over on the day, 4 over for the tournament and 18 strokes behind leader Sergio Garcia when he withdrew following his tee shot on the ninth hole. “It’s just the whole lower back.”
This brings Woods’ status for this week’s PGA Championship into question. Valhalla is the home of his PGA Championship playoff win in 2000, but after injuring the back just four months after major back surgery it will likely be a last minute decision whether Woods tees it up come Thursday.
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