PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA | Tiger
Woods had just drained an eight-foot putt
for eagle at the 18th hole, and the sonic
boom sound from thousands all around
reverberated all the way over to where
Rory McIlroy was himself lining up his
eight-footer for birdie at the 13th hole.
Would the roar and Woods’ 10-under
score undo Rory, or would the curly-haired kid from Holywood, Northern Ireland, gather himself and show his mettle?
Seconds later, here came the resounding
answer. McIlroy buried his own eight-footer to maintain a two-shot lead he managed to nurse all the way to the frenzied
finish with five straight pars.
“I wasn’t really paying much attention
until he made that eagle on 18,” McIlroy
said. “I heard the huge roar and it defi-
nitely wasn’t a birdie roar … I was able to
hole that putt, which was very important.
I knew if I could just play the last five
holes at even par, it was going to be good
With one final three-foot putt at the
18th hole, the 22-year-old reigning U.S.
Open champion fulfilled one of many
childhood dreams. His first victory of the
season on the PGA Tour pushed him to No.
1 in the Official World Golf Ranking and
also had the dual effect of keeping run-
ner-up Woods winless in a full-field event
since November 2009.
Woods signed for a memorable 8-un-
der 62 on Sunday, the lowest final round
of his already storied career. But it wasn’t
enough against McIlroy, who posted 1-un-
der 69 and prevailed by two shots over
Woods and journeyman Tom Gillis (69).
“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,
which is be a successful golfer,” he said.
“I still feel like I’ve got a long way to go to
achieving what I want to. This has always
been my dream to play professional golf
and win big tournaments. The day where I
don’t have the attention or I don’t have the
scrutiny is the day I know that something
But on this day, everything was right
for Rory McIlroy, now No. 1 in the world. l