Like a teenager racing home on curfew, Rory McIlroy battled darkness and his elders to win his fourth Major title, and second in a row, nipping Phil Mickelson by a stroke to capture the 2014 PGA Championship Sunday at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky.
Calling it the “most satisfying” of his four Major titles, McIlroy took on all comers and became just the fourth man in the last 100 years to win four Majors by age 25 or younger – joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nickalus and Bobby Jones.
It’s McIlroy’s third straight win, and makes him the first man to win both two Majors in a row and the Open Championship and the PGA Championship in the same year since Padraig Harrington in 2007.
The victory was not without controversy. Playing behind Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, McIlroy was allowed to “hit up” twice in a row as the tournament tried to allow him to finish before darkness set in.
Lengthy rain delays saw several players start late.
Fowler and Mickelson, paired together, had no problem with McIlroy and Bernd Wiesberger hitting their tee shots, but neither man was in favor of the second shots coming as well.
PGA officials allowed McIlroy and Wiesberger to hit their second shots as well before Mickelson and Fowler were allowed to finish out the hole – delaying the natural progression of their shots.
McIlroy took a while to get warmed up, sitting at 2-over and out of the lead through six holes. He turned things around with an eagle on No. 10 that was born from a long rolling shot that just missed the rough by inches. He followed up with birdies on No. 13 and 17 to finish 3-under for the day at 16-under for the tournament.
Mickleson, who finished in the top 10 of an event for the first time this year, made his charge early, hitting birdies on four of his first nine holes. A bogey on No. 16 cost him a chance to force a playoff.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson was also on fire early, at 5-under on the turn to momentarily take the lead, but failing to keep the same intensity down the stretch and winding up tied for third with Fowler at 14-under.
Fowler completed one of the most bizarre Major campaigns in golf history – finishing in the top five of all four tournaments, but failing to win any of them.