McIlroy caps tough week with dramatic BMW win
VIRGINIA WATER, England – The rest of the world’s top golfers will be hoping Rory McIlroy gets back into another relationship quickly.
Just five days after a very public end to his engagement to former tennis World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy put his heartbreak behind him to win the €4.75 million BMW PGA Championship.
McIlroy closed with a 6-under 66 for a 14-under total of 274 to take the title by a shot over close friend Shane Lowry. Thomas Bjorn and Luke Donald finished joint third at 12 under.
McIlroy seemed a broken man Wednesday after announcing he’d gotten cold feet and called off the wedding. He certainly had a spring in his step with the way he skipped around Wentworth’s West Course in 66 blows to come from seven shots behind overnight leader Bjorn and win Europe’s flagship tournament.
“I knew coming in here that I was playing well,” McIlroy said. “I struggled a little bit on Friday but played great over the weekend. I was a little fortunate that a few of the guys in front of me struggled and I was able to take advantage of that.”
The 25-year-old said he’d turned off his phone and left his laptop at home to get away from distractions. He said he wanted to find sanctuary inside the ropes to get his mind off the very public break-up.
He certainly found peace of mind in the European Tour’s backyard.
McIlroy’s previous record around the Wentworth West Course had been nothing to write home about. He posted a fifth-place finish here in 2009, but that was before Ernie Els made drastic changes in 2010. Rory finished 48th that year, 24th in 2011 and had missed the last two cuts. Needless to say, he previously wasn’t a fan of Els’s re-design. Not many are.
McIlroy hinted that this might be his week with an opening 4-under 68, his lowest opening score in this championship. However, no one expected the former World No. 1 to come from seven shots off the lead to take the €791,660 first-place check.
It was just the sort of performance he was looking for ahead of next month’s U.S. Open.
“I really wanted to win before going into that second major of the season,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to prepare.”
Lowry found himself with a three-shot lead after 12 holes thanks to three consecutive birdies from the 10th hole. However, he double-bogeyed the 13th and bogeyed the 15th to say goodbye to his third European Tour victory.
“I feel very unlucky,” Lowry said. “I hit some great shots coming in, like I hit probably best 5-iron of my whole year at 15, and ended up making bogey, which is a bit annoying.”
He holed a 40-foot birdie putt at the 18th to take the second-place check of €527,770.
“To hole the putt on the last and finish second on my own is really nice,” Lowry said. “It's given me a lot of world ranking points and a lot of Race to Dubai points.”
Bjorn’s collapse caught everyone off guard. It was his title to lose. He did just that with his closing 75.
Signs that the Dane might falter came when he triple-bogeyed the par-4, sixth hole. He also bogeyed the ninth to play the front nine in 39 shots, or 4 over. It threw the door wide open and McIlroy stepped in to pick up his sixth European Tour victory.
Bjorn’s third-place finish earned him another 267,425 Ryder Cup points to strengthen his grip on third place on the European points list, with the top four earning spots in this year’s Ryder Cup team. He will almost certainly join McIlroy on the European team at Gleneagles in September.
The win is McIlroy’s first European Tour win since the 2012 DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, and his first victory anywhere since winning the Australian Open at the end of last year.
It also finally dispels all the doubts of last year when he struggled with his equipment change. Look for him to contend at Pinehurst next month as he seeks his second U.S. Open win and third major victory.