There’s something about Charlotte. When Rory McIlroy missed the cup at the 2010 Masters, he responded by winning what was then the Quail Hollow Championship. Augusta National’s next Friday night outing for the Northern Irishman, 11 years later, was followed by a victory at the same spot. No wonder McIlroy was seen taking deep breaths on Quail Hollow’s famous “Green Mile” closing three holes; it marked his first victory since November 2019 – 553 days, to be precise – and the perfect response to widespread representations of the crisis. McIlroy just turned 32; the form is temporary.
McIlroy’s final round of 68 saw him win the Wells Fargo Championship by one to 10 under par. Aside from his recently high-profile tales of doom, this was a timely collection of trophies; the US PGA Championship kicks off Thursday week at Kiawah Island. McIlroy won on the same course in the same tournament nine years ago. This marks McIlroy’s third success at Quail Hollow, but by far the most significant. He must have scratched and scratched for first place, as belies any notion of a golfer living on past glories.
“It’s never easy,” said a visibly moved McIlroy. ” He [the last win] it has been a long time. The world is a whole different place. A pandemic, being a father now. It’s awesome. Breaking the drought and winning here again is great.
It was no coincidence that vast galleries greeted the famous McIlroy. “I need this,” he admitted. “I feed off so much energy, maybe here more than anywhere else because it’s the only place I’ve won three times.” In the midst of technical struggles, this is perhaps the key point. McIlroy suffered, like many other athletic and athletic teams, from the absence of an audience he has become accustomed to from his youth.
McIlroy’s latest triumph will likely never come without a break. Holding a two-stroke lead on the 18e tee, a high and catchy tee shot bounced towards a water hazard and rested in a horrible position as if buried on the shore. After much deliberation – including wise advice from his younger brother Harry Diamond – McIlroy opted for a penalty rather than any attempt to clear his ball. After finding the green, a two-stroke bogey was enough.
Earlier, McIlroy – who started day four adrift from Keith Mitchell – played the outside half in a pair under par. Birdies at Quail Hollow’s 14e and 15e strengthened McIlroy’s stance as others faded. Mitchell signed for a par 72 to share the third with Viktor Hovland. Abraham Ancer’s nine under par took second, as helped largely by a Sunday 66. Gary Woodland’s par 71 meant fifth place.
“It shows you how awesome he is as a player because he didn’t do his best today and still won,” said Mitchell of McIlroy. “That’s why he’s got majors and a bunch of wins. It’s impressive to watch that because he had to fight there. The wind was blowing like mad.