After seven days of almost indescribable emotion, former world No 1 Rory McIlroy came from seven shots behind to claim a memorable victory in the BMW PGA Championship yesterday as overnight leader Thomas Bjorn squandered a five-shot lead at Wentworth.
Just days after experiencing the very public heartache and embarrassment of calling off his wedding to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy carded a closing 66 to win the European Tour’s flagship event for the first time following a “rollercoaster” week, as he put it.
“Inside the ropes each day, I found serenity or sanctuary, whatever you want to call it,” he said.
McIlroy said he turned off his phone and gave away his laptop, attempts to dodge the public criticism after his admittedly sudden breakup, which came after he got cold feet about their impending marriage.
McIlroy took the outright lead for the first time with a birdie on the 71st hole and made another on the last to finish 14 under, one ahead of boyhood friend Shane Lowry of Ireland, with two-time winner Luke Donald and Bjorn both two back at 12 under.
“I knew coming in here I was playing well,” McIlroy said. “I was a little fortunate that some of the guys ahead of me made mistakes and I took advantage of it.”
Lowry had briefly been three clear when he started the back nine with a trio of birdies, but drove into trouble on the 13th and made a double-bogey six.
Bjorn began the day five shots clear of playing partner Donald, but both players ran up triple bogeys on the sixth to throw the tournament wide open.
McIlroy, who has never had much love for Wentworth’s West Course, almost did not play this week, such was his mental state after the weekend breakup with Wozniacki. He had not won on the European or US tours since late 2012 and had fallen to 10th in the world ranking.
Bjorn needed a three on the 18th after birdies on the 16th and 17th, but after Donald had found the water with his approach, the Dane’s third shot came up well short of the flag.
“My caddie JP [Fitzgerald] set me the target of 15 under today. I didn’t quite get there, but 14 under was enough,” McIlroy said.
With the US Open set to begin June 12, McIlroy is right back where he wants to be – professionally, anyway. “I really wanted to win before going into the second major of the season and I could not have asked for a better way to prepare,” he said.
Published: May 25, 2014 04:00 AM