Sports

McIlroy back as No. 1 after Bridgestone victory

Rory McIlroy is back on top of the golf world, following up his British Open triumph with an elite World Golf Championships (WGC) win yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman rallied from a three-stroke deficit to beat Spain's Sergio Garcia by two strokes at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

With the win he replaces Australian Adam Scott atop the rankings, ascending to No. 1 for the fifth time in his career, but the first since March last year.

"It feels like a long time since I lost that No. 1 spot, but it feels good to be back on top," said McIlroy, whose star faded last year when he struggled with problems both on and off the golf course. "Hopefully, I can keep it for a while."

A win in the Australian Open late last year, and then a very public split with tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in May, paved the way for McIlroy to once again produce his best golf.

What happened a fortnight ago at Royal Liverpool proved that McIlroy is the true heir apparent to Tiger Woods as the world's best golfer.

Now he has become the 13th player to own both a Major and a WGC title - and joined Woods as the only players to win them in back-to-back starts.

For McIlroy, winning a first WGC crown at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight titles, was special.

"I grew up watching Tiger dominate in this tournament, and dominate pretty much wherever he played," McIlroy said. "I dreamed of one day trying to do something like that.

"I'm not comparing myself because he's done this millions of times and this is only my first ... But yeah, it feels great to come here and win on this golf course."

The week at Firestone showcased the glaring contrast in the current career trajectories of McIlroy and Woods.

McIlroy vowed all week that he wouldn't take his foot off the accelerator in the wake of his Open triumph, which made him just the third player in history - after Jack Nicklaus and Woods - to win three of golf's four Majors by age 25.

He made good on that promise yesterday, when he birdied four of his first five holes to surge past a demoralised Garcia, who had also chased him in vain in the final round of the Open.

BACK SPASMS

By the time McIlroy was hoisting the trophy, the 38-year-old Woods was long gone - his third start since back surgery in March cut short when an awkward shot left him with painful back spasms and forced him to withdraw.

Woods is now doubtful for the final Major of the year, the PGA Championship, which starts on Thursday.

McIlroy is the favourite to add another Major to his resume, before attempting to complete his career Grand Slam at the Masters next year.

McIlroy was already looking ahead to Valhalla, and plans to familiarise himself with the layout at Louisville yesterday and today.

"I feel like, with the way I'm playing, there's a few wins left in me this year," he said. - AFP.


Watching the way Rory won in Akron and... at Hoylake, there’s no reason why he can’t dominate the game for many years to come. He is head and shoulders above everyone else.

- Two-time Major winner Tony Jacklin, on Rory McIlroy

WGC