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Hoylake Joy for McIlroy

By David Ferguson (People's Daily Online)    15:31, July 21, 2014
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Crouching Tiger – No longer the one they all have to beat (Photo/Sun Zhi)

Rory McIlroy is the 2014 Open Champion. He held off a stiff challenge by Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to take the title at Royal Liverpool Hoylake by two strokes.

At 6.14 p.m. on Sunday 20th July 2014, only two men in the history of golf had won three Major Championships by the age of 25. They were the two most successful golfers of all time – Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

At 6.15 p.m. Rory McIlroy tapped in a one-foot putt for par on the 18th green at Royal Liverpool Hoylake, and that number rose to three. McIlroy has added The Open to his US Open and PGA titles, and now needs only the Masters to complete the set. It is a remarkable achievement by the young Irishman, at a time when competition at golf's highest level is tighter than ever before. With Tiger's game in undeniable if not necessarily irreversible decline, it is now clear that McIlroy is the man that the others need to beat.

This win was far from easy. As with Round 3, the day was full of suspense to the very last hole. Credit must go principally to Spain's Sergio Garcia for ensuring that this was no procession. But as McIlroy stood on the second tee, few would have predicted how tight things would get.

He had just birdied the first hole, and with his playing partner Rickie Fowler making par, Rory had extended his lead to an apparently unassailable seven strokes. Seven strokes ahead, seventeen holes to play until he could raise the Claret Jug in triumph.

Garcia too had birdied the first, joining Fowler on ten-under. Even so, the gap looked insurmountable. But Sergio had other ideas. He birdied 3 and 5 as well, and began to put just a little pressure on Rory.

Rory played the par-5 fifth badly. I