Thursday, September 21, 2023

Rory McIlroy: Genesis Scottish Open success breaks the seal for major mission

After changing from a 4 to a 2-iron, McIlroy hit a bullet from 205 to just 11 feet, rolled in the putt to shoot 68 and finished at 15 under for his first PGA Tour title in 2023. The putt seemed to waver in the breeze, and McIlroy didn’t seem to think it would drop. He broke into laughter and looked up at the sky when it disappeared.

But McIlroy spoiled the script of another native son winning his national championship – following wins by Nick Taylor at the RBC Canadian Open and Wyndham Clark at the U.S. Open last month. He responded by knocking his tee shot at the 191-yard par-3 17th to 5 feet and tied MacIntyre at the top of the leaderboard. At 18, McIlroy canned an 11-foot birdie putt to claim victory.

Prior to this shot, McIlroy’s longest drive of the season was 388 yards on the third hole at Riviera Country Club in the second round of the Genesis Invitational. And it wasn’t like he went at this one with a mighty rip or anything. It was a very controlled swing that set up an eventual birdie. It was the seventh longest measured drive of the PGA Tour season and the longest of the year on the DP World Tour (which is co-sanctioning the event). It’s also the longest of McIlroy’s career on tour.

But trailing by a shot with two holes to play, McIlroy hit tremendous iron shots to set up birdies at both finishing holes to edge MacIntyre by a stroke in a dramatic and thrilling finish to the Scottish Open.

There were only eight birdies all day on the final two holes of the par 70, and McIlroy was the only in the field who connected on both in the finale. The champ had an eagle and 22 birdies across his 72 holes to post 15-under 265, but it wasn’t until the finish line when he circled any consecutively.

It was a heartbreaker for MacIntyre, who was trying to win his national open, and he delivered a class shot of his own. MacIntyre hammered a 3-wood from the rough on the 18th hole at The Renaissance Club to 4 feet, pumping both fists when it dropped for a 64.

It’s McIlroy’s 24th career PGA Tour victory, 16th on the DP World Tour and second on both tours this season. He had been playing as well as anyone in the world the past few weeks, finishing in the top 10 in each of his previous five starts going back to the PGA Championship, including a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open.