Rory McIlroy scored his first win of 2016, a three-stroke victory at the Irish Open that gives him 11 professional wins in the last 2-1/2 years.
McIlroy fired a 67-70-70-69 – 276 to finish 12-under, three strokes ahead of Wales’ Bradley Dredge and Scotland’s Russell Knox.
The three-stroke margin of victory was deceiving. McIlroy saw the lead drop to one stroke before a brilliant final three holes that included a 256-yard blast on No. 18 to set up a tap-in eagle.
He then topped that performance by donating his entire check to charity. McIlroy has historically struggled at the event hosted by his own charity, admitting he spends too much energy on hosting duties and not enough on golf, to the point of missing the cut a year ago.
He was the leader in the clubhouse after a round on Day 1, firing a 67, and was able to hold off the charges of Dredge, Knox and several others from across the European Tour.
The victory jumped McIlroy up to second in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings, well behind overall leader Danny Willett, who owes the lion’s share of his points to his well-earned win at The Masters last month.
It’s familiar territory for both men. McIlroy won the Final Series last year with Willett second. Willett has 2.78 million points so far, McIlroy 1.99 million. Only three other players – Louis Oosthuizen, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and Henrik Stenson have crossed the 1 million-point barrier this year.