CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy won for the second time in three weeks and shattered the tournament record when he clinched a seven-stroke victory at the $7.1 million Wells Fargo Championship on Sunday.
McIlroy started the final round with a four-shot lead, and was never seriously challenged as he compiled a steady three-under-par 69 at Quail Hollow, where he notched his first PGA Tour victory five years ago.
The Northern Irishman finished at 21-under 267, a tournament record low score by five strokes, while Americans Webb Simpson (72) and Patrick Rodgers (68) tied for second on 14-under.
McIlroy’s margin of victory was only one shy of his record eight-shot wins at two major championships, the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship.
His demolition of the par-fives paved the way for his victory as he played them in a combined 13-under.
“The way I played yesterday really set me up to go out there today. I was in control of the tournament and I just needed to shoot a solid round and that was going to get me over the line,” he said after securing his 11th PGA Tour victory, and his 18th professional triumph worldwide. He has won three times this year.
“I’ve learned how to handle these positions and I’m finishing the job off the way I should, which is very pleasing.
“I still feel there’s a couple little areas of my game I can sharpen up on heading into the U.S. Open but it’s very close.”
McIlroy, who turned 26 on May 4, becomes the first non-American to notch 11 wins on the PGA Tour before the age of 30, surpassing the 10 victories by South African Gary Player.
When he clinched the World Golf Championships-Match Play two weeks ago, he joined Tiger Woods (29) and Jack Nicklaus (17) as the only players in the last 75 years to win 10 events on the PGA Tour before their 26th birthday.
A day after shooting a course-record 61, the world number one drained any suspense out of the final round by avoiding major mistakes. His putter went cold and all five of his birdies were tap-ins from inside three feet.
A three-putt bogey at the second hole, his first blemish since the first round, allowed Simpson to move within three shots, but the former U.S. Open champion’s chances effectively ended when he three-putted from four feet at the par-three sixth.
Due to a busy schedule - - he is in the midst of a stretch of five tournaments in five weeks, McIlroy nearly did not play here this year.
“It was never on my schedule,” he said, revealing that he changed his mind after the Masters last month.
Editing by Gene Cherry