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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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Rory McIlroy wins The Players Championship after brilliant performance in Florida

The 29-year-old secured the unofficial ‘fifth major’ for the first time following an excellent display at Sawgrass.

McIlroy holds the trophy at Ponte Vedra Beach.
McIlroy holds the trophy at Ponte Vedra Beach.
Image: Gerald Herbert

A BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE from Rory McIlroy saw the County Down native secure the Players Championship at Sawgrass on Sunday to cap off a perfect St Patrick’s Day.

The four-time Major winner recovered from a double-bogey six at the fourth to card a 70 and finish on 16 under, one stroke ahead of Jim Furyk, securing his first PGA Tour win since the Arnold Palmer Invitational 365 days ago.

Jon Rahm, who held the overnight lead by one stroke from McIlroy and fellow Team Europe Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood, faded badly to finish five back.

Fleetwood ended up on 13 under alongside world number one Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, while Tiger Woods claimed a tie for 30th on six under.

McIlroy adds Sunday’s crown — the unofficial fifth major — to his collection while picking up the $2.25 million prize.

He now approaches the 2019 Masters at Augusta with a renewed confidence seeking to become just the sixth man to ever complete the career grand slam.

“It’s very special, I just tried to treat it like another day,” McIlroy said after his victory.

“Even though I’ve had close calls this year, they didn’t mean anything. They were good for me, I call them ‘remote misses’. It gives you even more hope to go again — I think all those experiences this year led me to this point.

“Ultimately they were good for me because it got me over the line today. I birdied nine, I had a great chance on ten, birdied eleven and then before I hit my tee-shot on twelve I heard this big roar and I backed off.

“The birdie on twelve was huge, just to give me a little bit of momentum to get to fifteen under par.”

McIlroy bogeyed the 14th but held his nerve in the final stages with back-to-back birdies to reclaim the lead, before navigating the final two holes with two pars.

“The final few holes were tough and to get that birdie on fifteen after the drop shot on fourteen was massive,” he said. “I knew sixteen was a good chance and then just to par the last two holes gives me a lot of confidence going forward.

“This is a great start to the season. It’s a massive win, but the way I played on those last few holes gives me huge confidence.

“If I hadn’t have won today I would have said that I don’t need a win going into Augusta, but it’s very nice to get a win, especially doing it on this golf course which plays a little bit similar to the way Augusta will play in a few weeks’ time.

“As I said, I can take a lot from this. It’s taken me a few weeks to get to this point, but I feel like I’m playing some of the best golf of my life right now and I just need to keep going with it and keep doing the same things.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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