Rory McIlroy Holds Off Tiger Woods, Rises to No. 1

Roy McIlroyRory McIlroy
waited out a storm delay Sunday morning and weathered an electric
outburst wearing a red shirt later in the afternoon to win the Honda Classic at PGA National and supplant Luke Donald as the world’s No. 1 player.

Pictured: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after
winning the Honda Classic on Sunday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., which
will lift him to No. 1 in the world rankings. (Lynne Sladky, AP)

With gut-check pars throughout his final round on
the wind-swept Champion Course — he made all 15 of his putts inside 10
feet and had two big up-and-downs for par out of bunkers on the 15th and 17th holes — McIlroy closed with a 1-under-par 69 to finish at 12-under 268 and stave off Tiger Woods and journeyman Tom Gillis by two shots. Another two shots back in fourth was rival Lee Westwood, who came home with a 63.

But
Woods caught McIlroy’s attention with a 62, the best closing round of
his career. Beginning nine shots in back of McIlroy and six groups in
front of him, Woods eagled the third hole, added four other birdies and
finished with another eagle on 18 when he rifled a 5-iron from 216 yards
to 8 feet. McIlroy was facing an 8-foot birdie putt on 13 when the
roars from Woods’ eagle on 18 reached his ears and his lead had shrunk
to one. Not shaken, McIlroy stepped up and knocked in the putt to regain
a two-shot advantage he didn’t relinquish.

“It
was tough today, especially when Tiger made a charge and posted 10
under,” said McIlroy, who enthusiastically embraced his father, Gerry,
behind the 18th green after his third win on the Tour and his 10th
top-five finish in his last 11 starts around the world. “I was just
able to get the job done. My short game has been good all week, which is
what you need on a course like this, because when you get into a bit of
bother you have to get up-and-down. My short game saved me a couple
times today.”

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SOURCE: Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY