Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

McIlroy misses out on Akron title

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy, the leading light of golf's young guns after his runaway US Open win in June, justified his favourite tag for this week's USPGA Championship with a 67 for joint sixth place in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

It was a disappointing end for Scot Martin Laird, whose 72 dropped him from fourth to 11th, but it was Adam Scott who used all his experience to capture his first world title on Sunday night.

On the same Firestone course in Akron where Williams helped Tiger Woods win an amazing seven times in nine visits, the 31-year-old Australian took the title by four strokes with a near-flawless closing round of 65. Padraig Harrington finished six over, Graeme McDowell nine over and both Open champion Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter 12 over.

Scott was caught at the start by compatriot Jason Day and then by Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa on three separate occasions. But each time he responded and after a chip-in birdie at the short 12th, he opened a two-shot gap for the first time and continued to show the class that has now taken him back into the world's top 10.

He crowned his 17 under par performance in fitting fashion, almost holing his approach to the 464-yard last as Woods so nearly did during his years of dominance.

England's world number one Luke Donald was always just off the pace despite only three bogeys all week, but birdies at the 16th and 18th for a 66 lifted him into a share of second place with 22-year-old American Rickie Fowler, while 19-year-old Ishikawa and 23-year-old Day were one further back.

And world number two Lee Westwood heads to Atlanta in confident mood as well after a joint best-of-the-day 65 for joint ninth.

Woods, meanwhile, came joint 37th in his first event after 12 weeks out injured. A hat-trick of birdies from the 15th put a gloss on what was a real up and down day and week for the former world number one.

At least a closing 70 for one over was a distinct improvement on last year - 78th out of 80 - but it was still something of a disappointment after an opening 68 had put him inside the top 20. Woods could take comfort from some of the players he beat in his first event for 12 weeks.

They included great rival Phil Mickelson after he double-bogeyed the last for a 72 and three over aggregate, while Paul Casey was two over.

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