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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 has been thankfully buried.
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 on Monday 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.
Like Tiger at the same age, Rory is in love with the Majors. Last week the year had a B rating, but this victory, which has seen him recapture the world No 1 spot from Luke Donald, elevated it instantly to an A plus.
When asked about beating Jack Nicklaus’ 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. – Daily Mail