McIlroy lifts second major and it proves another romp
While the flame was being put out at the London Olympics, the 23-year-old’s talent shone like a beacon at Kiawah Island in South Carolina as he returned to world No 1 by adding the US PGA title to his US Open last year.
The first came by eight shots and so did the second, this time a championship record margin over England’s world No 98 David Lynn in what was the performance of his life.
This one also had the added satisfaction of leaving Woods trailing in his wake.
Closing with a 66 to follow a 67 earlier in the day – the third round had to be completed first – McIlroy, who admitted during the summer that he may have taken his eye off the ball during a run of four missed cuts in five starts, becomes the fifth youngest player in history to win two majors.
The only four to beat him were Young Tom Morris nearly 150 years ago, John McDermott just before the First World War, Gene Sarazen just after it, and Seve Ballesteros.
The previous biggest margin was Jack Nicklaus’s seven strokes at Oak Hill in 1980.
Joint halfway leader Woods, who missed McIlroy’s initial success in Washington through injury, finished down in 11th place, his Sunday destined to be remembered most for him being ‘attacked’ by a prickly pear cactus.
It was England’s Ian Poulter who staged a stirring last-round comeback that threatened for a while to turn the final major of the season into a thriller, but in the end it was 38-year-old Lynn, playing only his second major and with one victory in 370 European Tour events, who finished strongest to claim the runner-up spot and with it a debut in the Masters next April.
Lynn was always there or thereabouts during the week – a week that also nearly brought an early demise when he came close to stepping on an alligator – and birdies at the 16th and 17th meant he walked away with a cheque for over £557,000.
He has also leapt into the reckoning for the Ryder Cup with two weeks of Europe’s race to go.
Poulter birdied the first five holes, six of the first seven and from six shots behind teeing off narrowed his deficit to just one.
Runner-up to Padraig Harrington in the 2008 Open, Poulter’s burst came unstuck on the back nine, however, and he had to settle for a share of third with another Englishman, Justin Rose, Swede Carl Pettersson and defending champion Keegan Bradley.
Pettersson was not going to forget the tournament in a hurry either. Leader after an opening 66, joint top at halfway and still in with a great shout setting off for the closing 18 holes three behind, he suffered a two-stroke penalty on the first.
His drive was pushed into the edge of a hazard and in playing his second shot he disturbed a leaf on his takeaway and was told about the penalty two holes later after it had been reviewed by officials.
Pettersson still managed a front-nine 34, but McIlroy bettered that by one and his extra birdies at the 12th and 16th put the icing on the cake of a majestic display – notably wearing a red shirt that is normally Woods’s domain in the final round.
Poulter’s performance was guaranteeing him another Ryder Cup cap next month, but Harrington was left needing a wild card when, having moved into joint fourth, he slipped back with three back-nine bogeys.
Phil Mickelson clung on to the eighth and last qualifying position on the American Ryder Cup team – and will become their record cap holder by making his ninth appearance in Chicago next month.
After a closing 74 dropped him out of the top 30 at the US PGA, Mickelson had to wait to see if anyone could overtake him on the points table.
Bo Van Pelt was the last danger. He needed to be second and was one shot off that with five holes to play, but bogeyed the 14th and 15th.
Three newcomers – Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and US Open champion Webb Simpson – will be part of the side led out by Davis Love, who will name four wild card picks on September 4.
Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan are expected to be three of them and the last spot could be between Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson, both of whom made their debuts in 2010.