Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf

Rory McIlroy in ruthless form at Wells Fargo ahead of Irish Open bid

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy cantered to victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina, having done the hard work already with his stunning third-round 61.

After those 11-under-par pyrotechnics on Saturday, a repeat was neither likely nor necessary and the world number one could happily settle for a Sunday stroll to a three-under 69 and a 21-under-par total.

That was enough for a seven-stroke winning margin at Quail Hollow Club over playing partner Webb Simpson and Patrick Rodgers, who shared second on 14 under.

"It's a great feeling to win on the PGA tour and it sets me up for the coming weeks," said Holywood ace McIlroy who is in sensational form with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Royal County Down coming up from from May 28 to 31.

"I played really well all week and managed to put it all together. That 61 put me in a great position to go out and do what I did. I'm delighted to get the win.

"I've a lot of momentum now going into the next few weeks.

"I feel that when I have a lead going into final rounds I can handle it better and that just comes from experience.

"If I had of been in this position a few years ago it would have been different.

"These positions are now normal for me and I should be doing this. I'm a little more comfortable about it.

"Everything was pretty good and I was pleased with my iron play. I got aggressive and that was key. I had a few tap in birdies which was great.

"I'll try and recharge and practice now."

It is McIlroy's second win at Quail Hollow, having triumphed in this tournament in 2010 when he finished with six successive threes in a final-round 62 - a course record until he bettered it this weekend.

The 26-year-old added: "The golf course sets up perfectly for me.

"I had a goal today to birdie the par fives and the two drivable par fours, the eighth and the 14th.

"I felt if I made six birdies there was no chance of anybody catching me.

"I did what I wanted the last few weeks, got a couple of wins, got myself up the Fedex Cup standings and solidified my positions in the rankings."

An early dropped shot at the second was forgotten about by the time McIlroy reached the turn, having birdied the par-five fifth and seventh.

He hit a superb 132-yard approach to within two feet of the 12th pin and pitched to a similar distance at the 14th to set up a pair of tap-in birdies, adding another at 16.

That gave him a seven-shot lead heading down the last two holes and he could afford to bogey the par-three 17th and still maintain his lead.

While he had always led comfortably, McIlroy had to be on his game as Rodgers eagled the 10th and added birdies at 11, 14 and 15.

Once the Ulsterman responded, though, Rodgers faded over the last couple of holes with a five-five finish costing him three strokes.

A 68 was still enough to match Simpson's final tally after the latter shot 72, with his five birdies offset by three bogeys and a double at the sixth.

Fourth place was shared by Phil Mickelson, Gary Woodland and Robert Streb - the leader through the first two rounds.

Mickelson was left to rue dropping five shots at the 18th across the week, with a double-bogey six in the opening round and a seven on Saturday.

Mickelson said: "I played well, played four good solid rounds - I just struggle with that darn last hole!

"I feel like my game is coming back - this was a good week for me to build some momentum.

"I really worked hard on my putting and I felt I putted very well this week.

"I'm being a little more creative with my shot making and the irons.

"I've made a lot of birdies which I want to do and I've been getting at the pins.

"I'd like to play my way into events. I'm going to play two weeks prior to the US Open. I'll play Memorial in Memphis and hopefully have time then to work my game into competitive shape.

"I find myself focusing a lot better over 72 holes when I'm playing more competitive rounds rather than time off so that's the gameplan for me.

"I sure enjoy this course and challenge. I'll look forward to playing it again."

Geoff Ogilvy and Justin Thomas were 11 under, the latter surging into the picture on his eventful back nine which began birdie-bogey.

Thomas' tee-shot at the 13th struck the pin and he reacted with exaggerated mock anguish before calmly tapping in for a birdie two.

He gave the shot straight back at the next but holed from 38 feet for eagle at the 15th, making up at least in part for the one that got away two holes previously.

Americans Kevin Streelman, Shawn Stefani, Jason Bohn and Brendan Steele were 10 under, tied in ninth place.

England's James Morrison carded a flawless final round of 69 to claim his second European Tour title in the Open de Espana.

Morrison recorded three birdies and 15 pars to finish 10 under par at El Prat, four shots clear of defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, David Howell, Edouard Espana and Francesco Molinari.

Michael Hoey ended the tournament in tied 31st following a three-over-par 75 in the final round.

The Belfast player started the day in title contention and he was one under for his round after seven holes.

However, bogeys at nine, 14, 16 and 17 saw Hoey slip down the leaderboard and finish one over in Barcelona.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph