Rory McIlroy eagles out of the bunker in final round masterclass to win Wells Fargo Championship

Rory McIlroy heads into the PGA Championship full of confidence – Getty Images /Andrew Redington

Rory McIlroy produced a burst of outrageous golf to send himself to the PGA Championship at Valhalla – the scene of his most recent major triumph – and looked more confident than ever to finally end his 10-year majorless run.

With a 65 – which would have been so much more destructive had he not taken a double bogey on the last – McIlroy reduced Xander Schauffele’s challenge to rubble as the Northern Irishman won the Wells Fargo Championship by five shots after beating the fourth-ranked had left the world behind with Four going into the weekend.

It wasn’t that Schauffele played that bad. He was one under for the last two rounds, but the bouncing, swaggering Holywood man next to him was simply invincible. He built on his 67 on Saturday to dismantle Schauffele, the reigning Olympic champion, in chilling fashion.

After nine holes of the final round, after some back and forth, the main players were level. On the 15th McIlroy was six clear. He holed his bunker shot on that par five for eagle and at that point he was eight under for his last eight holes. He had also placed 10th in converting a 9-footer. You would call it PlayStation wave. But this was so cruel that it would get an 18 rating and didn’t belong on a children’s console.

This is what McIlroy had been waiting for as the game entered the midpoint of the main season. The 35-year-old had a great start to the season in Dubai – finishing first and second – but after the desert turned decidedly cold. McIlroy was so alarmed that he enlisted the help of legendary coach Butch Harmon, but there was little time for repairs before last month’s Masters.

The world number 2 struggled to finish in the top 25 but was buoyed by the improvements. Don’t underestimate how much the victory at the Zurich Classic gave him a fortnight ago. Granted, it was only the PGA Tour’s pairs competition and he let fellow American Shane Lowry play half the shots in the foursomes, but McIlroy was supreme in New Orleans and the joy of the experience seems to have set him free.

He ended up on stage that Sunday night singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” and while there was no karaoke reprise here – thank goodness – there was every sense that he wasn’t keeping that feeling.

“Yes, I really gained some confidence from New Orleans, winning with Shane, and yes, when I got to a golf course this week where I felt comfortable, my golf swing felt a lot more comfortable,” he said. “So next week when I go to a venue where I won, it feels like the stars have aligned a bit. I’m going into the next major of the year feeling really good about myself.

“Yes, I feel like these people have watched me grow from winning here as a 20-year-old to the ripe old age of 35 now. They’ve seen my progress throughout my career, and I’ve been lucky enough to win four times here. Yes, the support I get here is absolutely amazing. It’s one of my favorite stops of the year and I can’t wait to keep coming back and see how many I can get.”

Rory McIlroy eagle perfect bunker shot in dominant Wells Fargo Championship winRory McIlroy eagle perfect bunker shot in dominant Wells Fargo Championship win

Rory McIlroy won by five shots – Getty Images/itAndrew Redington

What seemed most promising was reviving his wedge game, which has been his Achilles heel for so long. McIlroy joked Saturday night that he “felt like Scottie Scheffler” for not making a bogey in 36 holes. It was ironic but daring and after making the first birdie – with a wedge from 450 feet to a few feet that would have made Harmon drool – he made the mistake on the fourth.

At that point, Schauffele – who has not won since the 2022 Scottish Open and would be called ‘unreliable’ if he were a goalkeeper – was still in control of the ball. Cue McIlroy and Schauffele’s inswingers went out with bogeys at the 12th and 13th and the crowd went into “Rorymania”. Only Tiger’s cheering overshadows Rory’s cheering these days.

The feeling is clearly mutual. The noise here was excessive as he neared the denouement and when his magic sand on the 15th all but confirmed things, the crowd roared him home. Charlotte is a sports town and wants to be bigger in that sense, and after McIlroy won his first PGA Tour here as a 20-year-old, they’ve considered it their own. He certainly made the layout his own personal domain.

“This is a tough course,” said Tommy Fleetwood, his Ryder Cup partner, after finishing in the top 15 at two under. “I’m not sure how Rory does it. He’s clearly in top form for next week.”

Korda misses record sixth LPGA Tour victory in a row

Nelly Korda’s quest to make LPGA Tour history came to an end Sunday night in New Jersey when she failed to win a sixth consecutive tournament.

The 25-year-old moved level three weeks ago with legends Annika Sorenstam and Nancy Lopez with five straight wins in the Chevron Championship – the female major. But on a Montclair course where she hasn’t competed yet, Korda had to settle for a top-10 finish.

After starting the final round tied for third, just eleven behind leader Madelene Sagstrom, with Rose Zhang one behind, making this a race for two golfers, Korda knew her chances were gone after a third round of 73 The American did not shrug her shoulders at this, but criticized her poor play.

“Poor in every way,” Korda said. “That’s just golf for you. I just made too many stupid, silly mistakes. Yes, I’ve been playing really good golf these past few months, but I’m human, so I’m going to have bad days. I’m not going to feel 100 percent here mentally, physically or whatever, but I’m going to give it my all and fight until the end.

Perhaps on the bright side, the Korda streak will end before the US Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club at the end of the month. That is undoubtedly the most prestigious tournament in the women’s world and the pressure on Korda to go to Pennsylvania not only to win her first professional US National Championship but also to maintain a remarkable streak would probably have been too much .

On the Ladies European Tour, England’s Charley Hull achieved her eighth runner-up finish since her last victory in Texas, on the LPGA Tour, 18 months ago. The world number 8 paid for her slow opening round of 72 in the Aramco Series, but failed in her catch-up game. Hull’s 67 took her to 68 and a total of seven under, three behind local favorite Hyo-Joo Kim.

“I’m quite happy with the way I played. I played solid all day, but Hyo-Joo just ran away with it at the end,” Hull said. “I just couldn’t hole the incoming putts. But I’m happy with my week. Are [disappointing] if you come second again, but it’s okay. Hull finished second at last year’s US Women’s Open and will be confident he can deny Korda.

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