Rory McIlroy went from narrowly avoiding an early exit prior to the weekend to winning the Quail Hollow Championship by four shots over Phil Mickelson.
During Friday’s second round, McIlroy found himself two shots higher than the project cut-line, with only three holes remaining on the day.
From there, McIlroy hit what he considers the shot of the tournament for him, when he laced a 4-iron from just over 205 yards out with the wind in his face over water to 6 feet. He converted the eagle putt and finished right on the cut line.
Then came the weekend.
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“The rest,” McIlroy said, “is history.”
On both Saturday and Sunday, McIlroy carded the low round of the day, that included a 10-under round of 62 on Sunday to come from behind and win for the the first time on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy finished out on the 72nd hole continuing the theme of the weekend, draining a 40-foot putt, as the 20-year-old threw his arms up in celebration.
“I suppose I got into the zone,” said McIlroy in a post-round interview. “I hadn’t realized I was going in 9, 10 under. I just know I got my nose in front and I was just trying to stay there.”
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With his victory, McIlroy becomes the youngest player to win on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods won in 1996.
McIlroy finished at 15-under par for the event, and collected the $1.17 million winner’s check.
“The last two days, it seemed as if everything had just gone right,” said McIlroy. “You get yourself into sort of a mindset like that, and you just keep going. It’s just been a great day.”
McIlroy now moves into the top-10 in the world, at No.9.
Mickelson closed his final round with a 4-under 68, and thought that would be good enough to supplant back-to-back victories coming off his Masters victory.
“I’ve got to congratulate Rory,” Mickelson said in a post-round interview. “He played some incredible golf. He’s an amazing talent. You knew he was going to come out and win out here. He is some kind of player.”
It had been since 2006, that a player made the cut exactly on the number, and went on to win the tournament. That occurred in New Orleans by Chris Couch.
“Most important shot of the year, to be honest,” McIlroy remarked. “If I don’t make eagle there, I’m practicing at Ponte Vedra this weekend. I said after the 66 yesterday, ‘That could have been the turning point in my season.’ I think today I’ve confirmed that.”
Entering the week, Woods and Mickelson were the top-two betting favorites on Online Sportsbooks. Woods missed the cut for only the sixth time in his PGA Tour career.
Now the page on the PGA Tour shifts to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla, for The Players Championship at famed TPC Sawgrass.