Magical McIlroy crowned the prince of the links
By Martyn Herman
HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - They flocked in their thousands to crown Rory McIlroy the new prince of the links and the Northern Irishman with a twinkle in his eye and a magician's touch with a golf club did not let them down at the British Open on Sunday.
It was not all plain sailing - Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler saw to that - but when the 25-year-old tapped his ball a few inches across the 18th green into the hole to seal victory the roar that went up could probably have been heard across the Dee Estuary in North Wales.
Garcia was also given vociferous support as he fought for all he was worth to claw back a seven-shot overnight deficit, at one stage slicing the lead to two strokes as he put together a superb final round of 66, but McIlroy never looked like choking.
With an avalanche of people spilling down the final few fairways, hundreds of cameras trained on his every move and his heart no doubt pounding, McIlroy appeared to have the coolest head on the course as he closed in on the Claret Jug.
"Relax Rory it's all in your hands now," one Liverpudlian bellowed at the 10th hole, before cheekily adding "Chill out because I've got a tenner on you!"
He need not have worried.
McIlroy, the third youngest player to win three of the four majors after his 2011 U.S. Open victory and U.S. PGA triumph in 2012, made a birdie at the par-five 16th, then produced a stunning chip at the par-four 17th to save par after missing the green in two.
Going down the 18th with a three-shot lead he could even afford an excursion into a greenside bunker with his second shot from where he dazzled the massed ranks in the amphitheatre-like grandstand with an escape that almost went in. Continued...