McIlroy joins greats after repelling Garcia charge
By Tony Jimenez
HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy suffered several anxious moments but kept the jitters in check to rubber-stamp his status as the newest golfing great by landing the first British Open title of his career on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Northern Irishman watched Sergio Garcia (66) cut his overnight lead from six strokes to two before repelling the last-round charge by his European Ryder Cup team mate to land his third major in a tantalizing finish at Royal Liverpool.
McIlroy returned a closing 71 for a 17-under total of 271 to become the third youngest player in the modern era to capture three of the four majors, following Jack Nicklaus (23) and Tiger Woods (24).
"It feels absolutely incredible. I'm happy I gave myself a cushion because there were a lot of guys coming at me especially Sergio and Rickie Fowler," he told reporters after picking up the coveted Claret Jug and a first prize of 975,000 pounds ($1.67 million).
"Just to be sitting here and looking at this thing and having my name on it, is a great feeling. It hasn't sunk in yet and I'm going to enjoy it and let it sink in tonight in the company of my friends and family."
Garcia, still striving to shed the unwanted tag of being one of the best players never to win one of the 'Big Four' prizes, pushed the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 U.S. PGA champion all the way before settling for a share of second place.
The 34-year-old Spaniard was two shots adrift and right in the hunt until he suffered a calamity at the 161-yard 15th, the shortest hole at Royal Liverpool.
Garcia's tee shot found a deep greenside bunker and he made a heartbreaking bogey four after taking two strokes to get out. Continued...