Derek Lawrenson: McIlroy wins by a mile after he remembers to smile
23:35 GMT, 13 August 2012
The summer of learning for Rory McIlroy and the state of flux in the sport he plays have both come to an end in the most emphatic of ways.
Four days was all it took to restore order to the world of chaos. Four days of ruthless brilliance from McIlroy and the conversation has shifted from 16 different winners of 16 different majors to how many one man can win in the years to come.
One record-breaking win at the US PGA Championship on Sunday, and all foolish talk of Caroline Wozniacki being some sort of Yoko-like distraction (younger readers, ask your dad) has been thankfully buried.
Cup that cheers: Rory McIlroy parades the US PGA trophy after his eight-shot triumph
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Over the past two summers McIlroy has had to deal with throwing away the Masters in heartbreaking fashion and becoming one half of a celebrity love item, and yet he's still finished up being the youngest winner of the US Open for 90 years and the youngest winner of the US PGA since it became a strokeplay event in 1958.
What on earth's he going to be like next year, with a settled life away from the course and all that wisdom gained on it
Some people drink for a week after winning a major and never get over the feeling of celebration, their lifetime's mission accomplished.
McIlroy was back on the beach at Kiawah bright and early yesterday morning, doing a photo shoot for his sponsor, Oakley. He spoke of his relief at winning his second major so quickly after the first and his determination to press on in the years ahead and fulfil his destiny among the immortals.
Holding 54-hole leads in big golf tournaments had come to resemble running down a slope backwards until McIlroy came along on Sunday and showed, like Tiger Woods before him, that if you've got the quality there's no better place to be.
Yes, we've enjoyed watching the Webb Simpsons have their day in the sun. But there's nothing that compares to watching greatness and the manner in which McIlroy dismantled the course considered the toughest in America was truly something to behold.
The nominal par might be 72 but to give you some idea of its difficulty, a scratch golfer would be considered as playing to his handicap if he shot a 36-hole total of 158 strokes. Over the weekend, McIlroy played those holes in 133 blows.
In a league of his own: Rory blew away the world's best golfers in a fashion that Tiger once did
When you win two majors in successive years by eight shots it's only natural for people to think of Tiger and Jack Nicklaus, but first things first.
Let's think Seve Ballesteros and Sir Nick Faldo and becoming the most successful European golfer of all time.
Ballesteros won five majors and Faldo six, and the latter has no doubt that both totals will be eclipsed.
'I think we saw at Kiawah, as we did at the US Open last year, that he is a very special golfer,' said Faldo.
Water view: McIlroy is back at the top of the world standings after his US PGA triumph
'I didn't win my first major until I was 30 and yet here he is at 23, with all that knowledge of winning already gained.
'The only other golfers in recent times to win two majors at his sort of age were Tiger, Jack and Seve and that's exactly where Rory should be ranked. He is that good.'
'I think we saw at Kiawah that he is a very special golfer'Nick Faldo
Like Tiger at the same age, Rory is in love with the majors. Last Wednesday the year had a B rating, but this victory, which has seen him recapture the world No 1 spot from Luke Donald, has elevated it instantly to an A plus.
When asked about beating Nicklaus's PGA record winning margin of seven shots, set in 1980, the smile almost cracked his face. 'That's a nice record to have, the sort you're really proud to own,' he said.
McIlroy felt intuitively when he arrived at Kiawah it was going to be a special week. He played the course, looked around the clubhouse, took in the sublime views and told his team he thought it time to confine a difficult summer to history, and prove a few people wrong.
He said: 'I just had a good feeling about the week. Earlier in the summer I was frustrated with how I was playing but a few people pushed panic buttons for no reason and it did motivate me. I don't think I could have answered the criticism in a better way.'
Dave Stockton, the American who has done so much for McIlroy's putting technique, told him to remember the boy within, the lad who never wanted anything else but to compete on the big stage, and play with a smile on his face. How better McIlroy looks when everything comes naturally.
How many majors will he win On big courses like Kiawah and when he's playing well, there's simply no-one who can live with him. It's inconceivable he won't win at least a couple of green jackets, for example, for Augusta National might have been built with him in mind.
But the next test for McIlroy is learning to do what doesn't come naturally and cope with tight tests where the strategy is all about patience and playing conservatively.
How quickly he absorbs those lessons might well decide whether he challenges the majors totals set by Seve and Sir Nick or pushes on for the rarefied territory of double digits. That all lies ahead in what promises to be an intoxicating future.
For now, however, let's do what Rory did after sinking his 20-foot birdie putt on the final green to complete his round of 66 and create history. For a few seconds he closed his eyes and savoured the moment.
All week he had gone back to his rented villa, turned on the television and taken in the inspiring scenes from the London Olympics. Now he has made his own stirring contribution to the sense of sporting euphoria sweeping the nation.
Garcia in final bid for Ryder Cup spot
Sergio Garcia and Nicolas Colsaerts have entered this week's Wyndham Championship in North Carolina in search of Ryder Cup points to force their way into Europe' s team.
Eleventh and 12th in the automatic standings, the pair would likely need a top-three finish to move past Ian Poulter in 10th and into the last automatic spot.
Eyes on the prize: Garcia is hopeful of forcing himself into the Ryder Cup reckoning
Colsaerts has also entered next week's final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker Championship. However, the in-form Belgian is likely to be one of captain Jose Maria Olazabal's two wildcard picks.
America's top eight is now known captain Davis Love will pick four wildcards in three weeks' time.
EUROPE (top 10): McIlroy, Rose, McDowell, Paul Lawrie, F Molinari, Donald, Westwood, Hanson, Kaymer, Poulter.
UNITED STATES (top eight): Woods, B Watson, Dufner, Bradley, Simpson, Johnson, Kuchar, Mickelson.
Surprise package Lynn’s head in a spin
Prior to finishing second at the US PGA, David Lynn's claim to fame, if fame is the right word, was for a picture of him with his head in a washing machine and his feet on a table top.
'Very uncomfortable,' said the 38-year-old from Stoke. 'Far more uncomfortable than being in contention to win a major.'
Life-changing round: Lynn finished second in this week's major
Lynn is an arch exponent of the practical joke known as planking but the joke he played on Sunday had him laughing all the way to the bank.
The majors are supposed to be for the best of the best, only for a relative unknown to finish one place above Justin Rose and Ian Poulter and register a higher finish in his second grand slam event than Luke Donald has managed in 38.
Lynn's prize of 550,000 trebled his previous best and could be described as life-changing. It guarantees entry into next year's Masters and US Open, and he could join the US Tour.
Now part of the world's top 40, he's even thinking Ryder Cup, which is some change in circumstances for a 17-year tour veteran who has never finished inside the top 25 on the money list.
Quote of the week
'Rory is proving that when he plays well it is like when Tiger played well. Tiger turned up for a few years and if he brought his 'A' game the rest of us struggled to compete. Rory is showing the same thing and there's only going to be less weight on his shoulders after this second major win. The frightening thing for the rest of us is he's only going to get better.' – Padraig Harrington heralds the Rory McIlroy era with a paean of acclaim.