Rory McIlroy hailed his Open Championship victory as the high point of his career so far and said he wanted to be the next great player to dominate golf.
McIlroy fired a 71 for a 17-under-par total to claim his third major crown at Hoylake by two shots from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. Only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won more at the age of 25 and he became just the 10th player to record a wire-to-wire victory in the history of the Open.
“It feels absolutely incredible,” he said. “It’s sort of cool that they put your name on there [the Claret Jug] even before you get it. So that was a nice little touch. It’s been an incredible week. I’m happy I gave myself enough of a cushion today, because there was a lot of guys coming at me, especially Sergio and Rickie. Just to be sitting here and looking at this thing and having my name on it, it’s a great feeling.”
The only sour note was the eviction of a fan, who had been heckling McIlroy all day. After one shout too many, McIlroy pointed out the offender to a steward and he was evicted. “He was giving me grief all day. I put up with it for the first 15 holes, and then he deliberately coughed on my downswing on the 16th tee. I still hit a great drive. But I heard it halfway down and I knew who it was. So I turned around and got him chucked out, thankfully.”
McIlroy’s mother, Rose, watching him win a major for the first time, was the first to greet him on the 18th green after the winning putt dropped. “It was just great to see her on the back of the 18th, how much it meant to her. I was trying not to cry at the time because she was bawling her eyes out.”
The next major, the US PGA is only three weeks away. He already has his eye on that even before the celebrations at Hoylake are done. “I want to be the guy that goes on and wins majors regularly, wins tournaments. I’d love to be in that position.”
For Garcia it was more disappointment after coming close on five occasions. “It’s difficult when you’re in a situation where you know you can’t make a mistake. It just puts that little extra pressure. So many good things happened throughout this week. And even today I got a couple of really good breaks. It was close.
“At least I’m proud of the way I played. I wanted to at least make him [McIlroy] feel it a little bit and see how he would respond. And he obviously responded well. There was someone a little better.”
Despite sharing second, Fowler was buoyed by the experience of playing alongside the winner in the final group. “Rory just kind of distanced himself from the field a bit, especially with his finish yesterday. It’s hard to be disappointed about it, because it was such a great week,” he said. “And with the way I had been playing in the majors, there was some pressure to play well this week. There’s plenty more to come.
“I’ll take 15 under in a lot of majors and sit there and wait in the clubhouse. Congratulations to Rory. He played awesome. And it was just kind of fun to throw a few shots at him coming in. To see him win was pretty cool. Just the walk up there on 18, it’s definitely up there as the best walk in golf. And to be there with Rory in the final group when he was about to win was special.”