Rory McIlroy reclaimed his status as the No 1 golfer in the world at the Wells Fargo Championship on the US PGA Tour at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina last night.
The top spot has been going to and fro between the 23-year-old Irishman and England’s Luke Donald since the beginning of the year. McIlroy went to top spot on a couple of occasions only to be usurped each time by Donald, who didn’t play at Quail Hollow immediately ahead of the $9.5m Tournament Players Championship beginning at Sawgrass on Thursday.
McIlroy’s remarkable consistency over the past nine months was again in evidence at Quail Hollow, where he closed with a magnificent final round of 62 to claim the title in 2010. He started yesterday two shots behind American Webb Simpson and immediately moved to within a shot of the lead by holing a 25 foot birdie putt on the second green.
However, he bogeyed the next two holes only to strike a golden patch approaching the turn by carding three birdies from the seventh to move into the lead along with another American, D A Points, one better than Rickie Fowler, the flamboyantly dressed 24-year-old who made a big impression in the 2010 US Ryder Cup team but who was chasing his first victory on the US Tour, and Simpson.
McIlroy and Points were still level with two to play at 15 under with Simpson right on their heels entering the closing holes known as the ‘Green Mile’. With water close to the left side of the green at the par-three 17th, McIlroy pushed his tee shot, his ball ending well to the right. He failed to get down in two, which sent Points to the 18th tee one ahead of McIlroy and Fowler, who had set the clubhouse target on 14 under with a fine four at the 18th.
With the tension at fever pitch, McIlroy drilled a glorious approach to within 15 feet of the final hole. Points could do no better than a bogey five, leaving McIlroy with his birdie putt to claim the Quail Hollow title and the $1.1m first prize. The ball slid by on the left of the cup and after he had negotiated a tricky three-footer for par, found himself in a play-off with Fowler and Points.
England’s Lee Westwood finished the tournament with a superb 66, highlighted by an outward nine of six-under-par 30 to tie for fifth on 11 under par.
* Gareth Maybin celebrated the centenary Spanish Open with his first top-10 finish this season in Seville.
The Ballyclare golfer birdied five holes near the end of his round in a score of 67 for a two under total and a share of seventh place.
Francesco Molinari became the first Italian-born winner of the event storming to a three-stroke success with a closing round 65 for an eight over par tally.
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