May 17, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Rory McIlroy walks towards the green alone in the lead during the final round at Quail Hollow Club. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Three weeks after winning the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship, Rory McIlroy has found himself back in the winner’s circle after cake walking his way through the Wells Fargo Championship. Shattering the tournament record by five strokes, McIlroy finished with a 21-under 267 to beat Webb Simpson and Web.com rookie Patrick Rodgers by seven strokes. Breaking just about every tournament record, McIlroy became the Wells Fargo’s first two-time winner, after adding to his win back in 2012.
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Entering the weekend, it was Charlotte resident Webb Simpson, a Quail Hollow resident, who used his hometown knowledge to get to 10-under and share the lead with Robert Streb. Unfortunately for them, Rory McIlroy was only three shots back and was primed for a record setting moving day.
McIlroy gave patrons a treat on Saturday, breaking Quail Hollow’s course record, previously held by himself, by 1 stroke after posting a 13-under 61. Also setting the record for most birdies in a round at Quail Hollow with 11, McIlroy’s 61 was his lowest score in his PGA TOUR career.
Only six players have shot 59 in official PGA TOUR events, but Rory was looking to join that group with five holes remaining on Saturday. “I was thinking about 59 from the 14th teebox,” McIlroy said following his historic third round. Averaging 334.5 yards off the tee, hitting 15 of 18 greens, and only needing 23 putts, Rory showed why he loves Quail Hollow.
“I rolled the ball really well, which I haven’t been doing for the past couple of weeks, so to see a lot of putts drop like that was really nice,” McIlroy said.
After such a dominating performance, it was hard for anyone to catch McIlroy on Sunday as he entered the final round with a four-shot lead. Not coincidentially, the Ulsterman has recorded only one final round over par in the last 11 months. McIlroy’s only scare came early on No. 2 after he three-putted for his first bogey in 167 holes, but that would be his last one until No. 17 when already had a seven-shot lead secured.
The closest anyone got to Rory in the final round was Patrick Rodgers. Rodgers is a graduate of Stanford and actually tied Tiger Woods’ school record for most collegiate wins with 11. Playing on sponsor exemption, Rodgers got within three strokes of Rory when he was able to play a stretch of seven holes in 6-under, but Rory pulled away on No. 16.
Quail Hollow’s most difficult hole stood no chance against the world’s No. 1. Piping a 364-yard drive down the fairway, McIlroy then stuck a gap wedge from 145 yards to 3 feet to make a tournament record 26th birdie and help him add back on to his lead. Rodgers would finish tied for second and earned his first top-25 finish on the PGA TOUR, locking up entry for the next three tournaments.
McIlroy’s 21-under broke the tournament record previously held by Anthony Kim’s 16-under back in 2008. After tearing through the course this weekend, it’s safe to say Rory owns Quail Hollow. He won his first PGA TOUR event there back in 2010 and continues to break records there five years later.
"“The golf course just sets up really well for me,” McIlroy said. “I love the place, I’m playing well, there’s no reason not to go. At least for now, the decision has paid off.”"
Quail Hollow will host the 2017 PGA Championship and Rory has already locked up the early odds on favorite with the way he has dominated the course. But for now, McIlroy has his eyes set on the 2015 U.S. Open and with two wins in three weeks, it’s hard not like the way he’s playing entering the second major of the year.