Golf

US Open countdown: Rory McIlroy record assault on Congressional nets first major title

111th U.S. Open| June 16-19, 2011

Congressional CC Blue Course, Bethesda, Md.

Leaderboard

Rory McIlroy, N. Ireland 65 - 66 - 68 - 69 268
Jason Day, Australia 71 - 72 - 65 - 68 276
Kevin Chappell, United States 76 - 67 - 69 - 66 278
Robert Garrigus, United States 70 - 70 - 68 - 70 278
Lee Westwood, England 75 - 68 - 65 - 70 278
Y.E. Yang, South Korea 68 - 69 - 70 - 71 278

As was long predicted, a new generational sovereign was emerging in professional golf — 22-year-old wunderkind Rory McIlroy.

Two months after a colossal final-day collapse at the Masters, McIlroy grabbed the reins of this championship from the start and never let go, setting 11 national open scoring marks — including the scoring record.

His 72-hole total of 268 shattered the old record of 272, shared by four golfers — Jim Furyk (2003), Tiger Woods (2000), Lee Janzen (1993) and Jack Nicklaus (1980).

McIlroy’s 16-under total also smashed Woods’ mark of 12-under, set at Pebble Beach Golf Links in 2000.

The Northern Irishman also became the third golfer in U.S. Open history to shoot all four rounds in the 60s, joining Lee Trevino (1968) and Janzen (1993).

The youngest U.S. Open winner since Bobby Jones in 1923 fired a bogey-free 65 to start the championship, opening a three-stroke advantage that only grew in a romp toward his first major title.

As much as the USGA winced at this kind of low scoring, the course was rendered soft and helpless after constant thunderstorms ran through the Washington, D.C., area all week.

And McIlroy responded with a barrage of birdies. By Sunday, he was eight shots ahead of second-place Y.E. Yang. He birdied the first and fourth holes to begin his final round — and tapped in another birdie at the par-3 10th hole, which goes right by the jam-packed clubhouse.

That birdie allowed McIlroy to reach the pinnacle of his scoring that week — 17-under. A three-putt bogey at No. 17 dropped him back.

“I know how good Tiger was in 2000 to win by 15 (shots) in Pebble (Beach). I was trying to go out there and emulate him in some way,” McIlroy said.

It was certainly a low time for U.S. golfers. An American had not won a major in five tournaments, which had never happened in golf history.

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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