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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Adam Schupak

Rory McIlroy birdies final two holes to win 2023 Genesis Scottish Open

GULLANE, Scotland — After Rory McIlroy birdied the final two holes on Sunday to win the Genesis Scottish Open in dramatic fashion, he saw fellow pro Robert McIntyre giving a post-round interview near scoring and went over and wrapped a comforting arm around the tournament runner-up. “I’m sorry,” he said in a tone of genuine sincerity.

Wherever he goes, McIlroy is a crowd favorite but on this occasion he broke a lot of hearts by closing in 2-under 68 at The Renaissance Club to edge Scotland’s top-ranked player by a stroke at his national championship.

“I mean, c’mon,” McIntyre said, breaking into a smile. “Some finish.”

Indeed, it was. McIlroy, the 54-hole leader, sank an 11-foot birdie putt at the last for a 72-hole total of 15-under 265 and earned his 24th PGA Tour title, tying him with Gary Player and Dustin Johnson in 26th place on the all-time win list. It also marked his first win on European soil in seven years since the Horizon Irish Open, and he became the first player to win the Irish Open, Scottish Open and Open Championship.

“It feels incredible,” McIlroy said. “To play that back nine 4-under par to win the tournament, yeah, really proud of how I just stuck in there.”

With all of Scotland trying to will him to victory, MacIntyre handled swirling, gusting winds to shoot 6-under 64 and take the clubhouse lead. He made his move on the back nine with a 6-foot eagle putt at No. 10 and a pair of birdies at 14 and 15. MacIntyre went 33 holes on the weekend without a bogey before missing a seven-foot par putt at the par-5 16th, but he rebounded with a solid up-and-down par at 17.

McIlroy tied him with a birdie of his own at 14 before MacIntyre delivered just the second birdie all day at 18, drilling a fairway wood from 213 yards to 4 feet. As he headed to sign his scorecard, MacIntyre’s eyes watered, a visible sign of how much winning on home soil would’ve meant to the 26-year-old who grew up attending the Scottish Open as a kid.

“I thought, ‘This might be the one,’” he said.

But McIlroy spoiled the script, just as he had done once before at the 2013 Australian Open, where an entire country was pulling for native son Adam Scott.

Tee times on Sunday were moved up several hours to try to avoid unplayable conditions, but the wind still was whipping with gusts at 40 miles per hour. McIlroy and Tom Kim traded the early lead until Kim (71), who finished T-3, made three straight bogeys at the turn and McIlroy dropped shots at Nos. 8 and 9, giving him four bogeys in all on the front nine. England’s Tyrrell Hatton (69) took a turn in the lead with birdies at Nos. 11 and 13 but made two bogeys coming home and a double at the last to finish at 9 under.

McIlroy, 34, showed plenty of resolve in notching his 16th win on the DP World Tour, his first title worldwide since the Dubai Desert Classic in January, and first triumph on Scottish soil. As he stepped to the 17th tee, the 2013 Australian Open popped into McIlroy’s head. Back then, he trailed Scott with two holes to play and birdied the last to clip him by a shot and spoil the crowd-favorite’s win on home soil. This time, he nailed a 5-iron at the 191-yard par-3 to 5 feet and made birdie. At the home hole, he had 202 yards, which set up for his 3-iron. However, he had taken that club out of his bag this week in favor of a 2-iron so chose that club instead and tried to hit cut it into the teeth of the wind.

“It came off absolutely perfectly,” McIlroy said. “Probably the best shot I hit all year. It was exactly the way I wanted to play it.”

McIlroy’s putter had been cold on Sunday when he was unable to win the U.S. Open, but on this occasion, he had the right stuff, dripping in the 11-foot birdie putt to clinch the title.

“It was straight down wind,” McIlroy said. “I just needed to get it started on line, and gravity and the wind and conditions will take care of the rest. It hung on nicely for me.”

Sweden’s David Lingmerth (68) and South Korea’s Ben An (69) tied for third and Denmark’s Nicolai Hojgaard (67) tied for sixth to earn their way into next week’s 151st British Open as the leading three finishers who weren’t already exempt into the championship, which will be held at Royal Liverpool.

McIlroy had been plagued by a troubling case of “Sunday-itis,” shooting 75 in the final round of the Memorial to finish T-7, 72 in the final round of the RBC Canadian Open to slip to T-9 and 70 on Sunday at the U.S. Open to finish second.

Rory McIlroy celebrates with putting coach Brad Faxon after winning the 2023 Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club in United Kingdom. (Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“If there’s anybody asking questions about if he can close out on Sunday, he’s answered them all with this performance,” said NBC Sports golf analyst Brad Faxon, who also doubles as McIlroy’s putting coach.

It should give McIlroy a boost of confidence heading into the final major of the year at a course where McIlroy won in 2014. The last player to win the week prior to a major and then win one of golf’s four biggest prizes? It happens to be McIlroy, who claimed the 2014 WGC Bridgestone Invitational ahead of the 2014 PGA Championship, the last of McIlroy’s four career majors.

“It’s nice to have the validation,” McIlroy said. “it’s great racking up top 5s, top 10s, but it’s much nicer heading away with a trophy on Sunday afternoon.”

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