Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Rory McIlroy reminds us why he gets big bucks

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 01: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 4th hole during day four of the 2013 Australian Open at Royal Sydney Golf Club on December 1, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Drama follows Rory McIlroy around. It is why Nike pay him $20m (£14.6m) a year, why Tiger Woods is desperate to have him tee up this week at his World Challenge event in California, why his work, good or bad, on or off the course, makes headlines.

His first win of the year required a birdie at the 72nd hole and a bogey from his rival in the final group. And not just any rival. McIlroy was chasing down Australia's finest in Sydney.

Masters champion Adam Scott, who had already collected the Australian Masters and PGA titles in successive weeks last month, held a one shot lead going down the last to win the Australian Open and complete the domestic grand slam.

It was his misfortune to run into McIlroy on a day the stars lined up behind him.

With only one tournament to come, and that an elite, 18-man knockabout with Woods, the Australian Open represented the last opportunity for McIlroy to put an awful year behind him with an authentic victory.

To reel in Scott, who began the final day in Sydney four strokes ahead, was some way to end a drought stretching back 13 months.

McIlroy required Scott to spurn glorious eagle and birdie opportunities at the 16th and 17th when he was out of position. But that's golf.

You can only play your own ball and a final round 66 is worthy of victory anywhere.

There were times this year when McIlroy was in utter despair with his game.

The balm applied by a better couple of months and now this victory makes perspective easier to come by. It's frustrating because you know the level of golf that you can play, and you're just not able to play to that level," he said.

"You're working hard and you're trying to find the reasons why. You think you've found the reasons and then you haven't. You try something else. It's frustrating but I never lost belief. I never lost any of that."

It helped that Scott began with a bogey and after just eight holes McIlroy had erased the deficit.

"I'm in a better place mentally with some things off the course, I definitely felt better with how my swing was, I just felt everything was coming together the way I wanted it to."

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