Contributed by Brian Hewitt for GlobalGolfPost
Rory McIlroy now has commandeered two major championships in the past two years by a combined total of 16 shots.
Last year it was the U.S. Open at Congressional by eight. Sunday it was the PGA Championship by eight again.
Remind you of anybody?
“We all know the talent he has,” said Tiger Woods, who finished a distant T11.
The previous biggest margin of victory at the season’s final major was seven. By a guy named Nicklaus in 1980.
“That’s a nice record to have,” said McIlroy who closed with a 6-under 66 at the Ocean Course.
His final round complemented two earlier 67s and more than offset a Friday 75 when the wind blew dogs off their leashes. McIlroy finished at 13-under 275.
“It was all good,” added McIlroy, who led by three after 54 holes and set a goal of 12 under before beginning his last round.
At the 2011 Masters he began Sunday with a four-shot lead and melted down with an 80.
“I didn’t have a target score in mind at Augusta,” he said late Sunday. “It’s one of the things I should have done.”
Little-known Englishman David Lynn carded a pair of weekend 68s for solo second at 5 under, one shot better than Justin Rose, Carl Pettersson, Ian Poulter and defending champion Keegan Bradley.
Meanwhile, eight players are now assured of U.S. Ryder Cup berths next month near Chicago. Woods is one of them. American captain Davis Love III will name the other four in early September. The European side will become finalized later this month.
Woods owned a share of the lead here after 36 holes, but skied to a front-nine 40 in the third round and never really threatened again. Where once he was “dominant,” now he continues to be merely “dangerous.”
Speaking of danger, after a relatively calm first round, the full fury of the Ocean Course and the evil genius of its architect, Pete Dye, got unleashed Friday. Winds gusted up to 38 mph, the 36-hole cut ballooned to 6-over par and the second round scoring average for the field soared to 78.1.
That latter number set an all-time one-day high for this championship and included a whopping 93 from club pro Doug Wade.
Former PGA champion Padraig Harrington had his own theory on how Kiawah bared its teeth.
“It’s not that the wind is that strong,” he said. “It’s that this is a really, really difficult golf course. When you have elevated greens ... and you are chipping downwind, it can be awkward. ... Most of my bogeys came on the downwind holes.”
And to be fair to the overmatched Wade, he wasn’t alone. Former PGA champion Love bogeyed his last five holes Friday to miss the cut by a single shot. So did Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita.
Can’t imagine their dinners tasted very good. Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, a winner earlier this year on the Euro Tour, bogeyed his last six holes to miss the weekend by a shot.
“Nobody is used to winds like this,” said 36-hole co-leader Vijay Singh. Singh led the field in scrambling at the halfway mark, but couldn’t scramble an egg Sunday, posting a final-round 77.
Pace of play in Friday’s gale slowed to a near standstill, at times upstaged in its turgidity only by the controversially glacial pace of the shuttle buses used to move fans, officials and media on and off this traffic-choked island all week.
The championship began gaining momentum on the golf course Saturday only to have a vicious afternoon storm attack the area. Play was suspended with the leaders still on the front nine, with McIlroy charging and Woods fading. It didn’t resume until early Sunday morning.
The only drama in the final round was the early charge mounted by Englishman Ian Poulter, who birdied the first five holes and briefly pulled to within one shot of McIlroy.
McIlroy responded with birdies on the second, third and seventh and never really looked back. A 10-foot curler on the 12th stretched his lead to six. The rest was a good walk unspoiled.
“He’s lapped the field twice now,” Harrington said of McIlroy’s two major wins.
Meanwhile, it didn’t go unnoticed that McIlroy wore a red shirt Sunday. Previously that was a Woods’ tradition and a staked claim.
McIlroy said he wouldn’t have worn red if he had been playing in the same group as Woods. But, he added without a trace of arrogance, “I might have to do it from now on. No wonder he won so much.”
“You know,” said Poulter, “when he (McIlroy) plays golf like this, he’s very impressive to watch. Everybody should take note. The guy’s pretty good.”
To be sure.
And to be continued.
Photo: Associated Press