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McIlroy a winner, running away

The 22-year-old from Holywood ‘lapped the field’ as he claimed a stunning first major win.

Image: AP

ON ANOTHER BRILLIANT day of golf, Rory McIlroy ran away with the US Open title, winning by eight shots and breaking the tournament scoring record by a whopping four strokes.

McIlroy shot 2-under 69 yesterday to close the four days at Congressional at 16-under 268, shattering a US Open scoring record held by four players, including Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Jason Day finished at 8 under, good for second place in his second straight major.

Two months ago, McIlroy blew a four-shot lead on the last day at the Masters. But there was never any sign of a crack in this one.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland started the day with an eight-shot lead and it never got lower. He became the third player in US Open history to break 70 in all four rounds.

On No 10 at Congressional, McIlroy hit his shot to above the hole on the downhill par-3, then watched it spin back, stopping only an inch or two from going in. The birdie pushed McIlroy to 17 under for the tournament, in range of the lowest score under par at any major — the record of 19 under was set by Tiger Woods at St. Andrews in 2000.

McIlroy gave back a stroke on No 12, but still led YE Yang and Jason Day by nine with three holes left. Kevin Chappell and Sergio Garcia were another shot behind.

Before this week, no player had even been lower than 12-under par at the U.S. Open. McIlroy got to 13 under on Friday, 14 under on Saturday and took that mark another three shots lower at one point Sunday.

The 22-year-old from Holywood needed to shoot 1-over 72 or better to break the 72-hole scoring record at the Open, held by four men, including Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

Players who teed off early were coming off the course and the topic was, of course, McIlroy.

“As I’ve said before, I think he has probably the most talent I’ve ever seen from a golfer,” said Luke Donald, the top-ranked player in the world, after finishing at 5-over par. “Lovely to watch him play, such a fluid motion, and he hits it far.”

Said Phil Mickelson: “You can tell that Rory has had this type of talent in him for some time now, and to see him putting it together is pretty neat to see.” He finished with a 71 on Sunday that left him 7 over.

On a muggy, overcast day at Congressional, there were more low scores to be had. The Blue Course has been taking a beating despite measuring 7,574 yards — second longest in US Open history.

“It’s not really a U.S. Open golf course, to be honest,” Martin Kaymer said. “It plays softer. You have birdie chances the first nine.”

Among those taking advantage were South Korea’s Sangmoon Bae, Johan Edfors and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, each of whom posted 4-under 67. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shot 5-under 66.

They were all playing for second.

“He’s a player with tremendous potential, and winning fulfills that potential and makes it easier to keep going,” Padraig Harrington said, referring to McIlroy, after a round of 73 put him at 5 over.

As he was on the verge of becoming Northern Ireland’s second straight US Open champion, his countryman, Graeme McDowell said: “Nothing this kid does ever surprises me. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen.”

- AP

As it happened: Rory McIlroy wins the US Open>

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