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Rory McIlroy makes it a happy birthday with £1.1m win at WGC-Cadillac World Match Play in San Francisco

Rory wins £1m matchplay after 8-hour marathon

By Jim Gracey

Birthday boy Rory McIlroy dug deep into his reserves of physical and mental strength to bank a £1.1million happy return and his first title of the season with victory in the WGC-Cadillac World Match Play in San Francisco last night.

World No 1 Rory, 26 today, celebrated with a 4&2 triumph over American Gary Woodland after an 8 hour 17 minutes Sunday golf marathon for his 10th PGA Tour title.

"It's my first win in the States this year, so I couldn't be happier," beamed Rory.

The Holywood star's success made up for missing out on a planned birthday treat at Saturday night's Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing World title showdown in Las Vegas.

McIlroy was prevented from flying to Vegas as planned for the fight after his quarter-final contest with England’s Paul Casey spilled into Sunday, due to fading light.

Starting out at 6.45am, local time, and finishing at 3.02pm (11.02pm UK time), Rory embarked on his own world title charge by defeating Casey in their first play off hole of the day, the 22nd hole of the match in total.

A mentally gruelling semi-final followed against Furyk as Rory simply found an extra gear, shooting four-under on the final

Another all square at 15 left Woodland needing to win the last three holes to force a play-off.

It was too tall an order and with the pressure on, it was Woodland who buckled, twice finding sand at the 16th and conceding, as Rory acknowledged the win in low-key fashion. It was the first time since Tiger Woods in 2008 that a world No1 has won this event.

“I’m really proud with myself and how I showed a lot of character in the tournament, coming back from some deficits. I played really solid golf,” Rory added.

“I’ve gone on a nice run in match play. I took a lot of confidence in how I played against Rickie Fowler at the Ryder Cup last year and just followed on in to this, so I’m obviously delighted.”

On missing joining pal Darren Clarke at the the big fight, he commented: “Honestly I am sort of glad I did not make it because it was sort of an anti-climax and Mayweather did what he usually does and danced around the ring and outpointed him,”

England’s Danny Willett, who lost to Woodland in the semi-finals, secured third place after beating Furyk 3&2 in the consolation match.

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