“It is not Tiger that, you know, Phil (Mickelson) and Ernie (Els) and those guys had to deal with”, said McIlroy. He birdied the 14th and 18th holes on Sunday to post a 2-under 69 and earn a two-stroke victory.
Woods walked off the course and his two children, 11-year-old Sam and 9-year-old Charlie greeted him with warm embrace.
“I’m lost for words really”, said Molinari.
McIlroy slipped back to three under early in his round but powered back into contention on a congested leaderboard, which included a rejuvenated Tiger Woods, with an eagle on the 14th.
The 14-times major victor eventually signed for a 71 and a share of sixth at five under with Englishman Eddie Pepperell – who claimed the clubhouse lead early in the day with a last-round low 67 – and fellow American Kevin Chappell (73).
“Even though he’s won 14, you have to learn how to get back”, said McIlroy whose last major was in 2014. A huge par putt on the sixth would just about keep his vague hopes alive, but McIlroy needs a stunner in his remaining 12 holes to win his fifth Major.
“Go out and hit a lot of drivers”, McIlroy said.
The 14-times major victor had to settle for a closing 71 and a 279 aggregate.
“If someone was expecting a charge, they probably weren’t expecting it from me”, he said.
The 24-year-old from California kept playing with a smile on his face despite finding himself, as he described it, “in the strangest spots possible on the golf course” with playing partner Spieth. Xander Schauffele topped a shot out of the rough, blew the next one over the seventh green and made double bogey. I loved seeing him jump to 20th. “Hopefully, they will get as inspired as I was at the time, watching him vie for the claret jug”. I was in the final group. The wind is supposed to pick up a little bit.
And then there was Kisner, looking to go wire-to-wire.
But along the way, Woods gave us another vintage moment when he fired a shot into the gallery at the 11th hole … and the ball somehow spanged rapidly back toward the hole.
50 – Tiger Woods’s projected World Ranking after finishing T6; good enough to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone in two weeks.