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RORY'S FAI RWAY TO HEAVEN

RORY McIlroy sealed the deal after an "unforgettable" summer of golfing highs and it was all about celebrating in style.

The Irishman joined the golfing hall of fame alongside legends like Tiger Woods when he snapped up his fourth major title - and second in a row - last night.

"I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have a summer like this," a thrilled Rory said after the tournament.

"It's been just incredible," he added.

"I didn't think in my wildest dreams I would have a summer like this. I just played the best golf in my life."

He lifted the Wanamaker Trophy - and saved it as it slipped from Ted Bishop's hands - last night at Valhalla.

McIlroy caught the lid of the 27-pound Trophy in mid-air as it fell off when PGA of America President handed it to him.

Scooping up the top prize rounded off a hat-trick of historic victories for the young golfer.

Last month he won his first World Golf Championship at Firestone and he also came out swinging at the British Open in Hoylake earlier this summer pushing him to No 1 in the world rankings.

Yesterday he started off in the lead before slipping behind but he returned in true McIlroy fashion.

Pipped

But there was no stopping the 25-year-old and he pipped Phil Mickleson by one stroke.

After rounds of 66, 67 and 67, McIlroy took a one-shot advantage into the final day and then slipped out of the lead by playing the first nine holes in 1-over par yesterday.

McIlroy made a 7-foot eagle putt at the par-5 10th hole to pull within one of the leaders and hit his approach to about two feet on the par-4 island green 13th hole to set up a birdie that tied him for the lead.

When Mickelson bogeyed the par-4 16th hole, McIlroy was in the lead by himself. He then curled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the par-4 17th hole, thrusting his fist into the air as the ball dropped into the cup to give him a two-shot advantage.

As darkness fell, McIlroy and partner Bernd Wiesberger teed off on the 18th hole as Mickelson and Fowler, in the group ahead, were walking to their balls in the fairway. McIlroy also hit into the green at the 18th, playing up as Mickelson and Fowler walked ahead to finish the hole.

Delighted Rory will represent Ireland in the 2016 Olympics in Rio as golf makes a return to the games after a 112-year absence.

It is the perfect time for the Hollywood hero to be looking at an Olympic bid as he has shown this summer that he really is at the top of his game.

Thrilled Rory was busy celebrating with his team last night while a host of his celebrity fans took to Twitter to heap praise on the talented golfer.

Hollywood legend Samuel L Jackson tweeted his joy at McIlroy's victory last night, posting "The Sandy Dagger! Rory slays 'em again!" to his account.

Jack Nicklaus, who is thought to be the greatest professional golfer of all time, also tweeted his response to the tournament as it progressed.

Confidence

The golf legend credited Rory with great "poise, confidence and determination".

This year saw the young sportsman from Northern Ireland thrust into the limelight because of his romance woes rather than his golfing prowess.

His shock split from tennis star Caroline Wozniacki ahead of their wedding created shockwaves around the world.

But earlier this week the star told the BBC that the split had probably improved his game.

Coming off wins at the British Open and Bridgestone Invitational that pushed him to No. 1 in the world ranking, McIlroy becomes the fifth golfer since 1980 to win three straight US PGA Tour starts, joining Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, David Duval and Vijay Singh. McIlroy received $1.8m for yesterday's win after getting $1.67m at the British Open and $1.53m at the World Golf Championships event.

He becomes the fourth-youngest golfer with four major titles under his belt and follows in the footsteps of the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Morris Jr.

McIlroy also won the 2011 US Open and 2012 PGA Championship. All four of his major titles have come since Woods, who missed the cut for weekend play, captured the last of his 14 majors in 2008.

McIlroy afterward thanked his "big brother" Mickelson and Fowler for letting his group tee off.

"If they didn't then it would have been a struggle for us to finish," McIlroy said.

"That showed a lot of sportsmanship and a lot of class."

Graeme McDowell, who'd just driven his ball into deep rough on the 17th hole of his final round, has been so impressed by McIlroy, he's rapidly revising his opinion about his fellow Ulsterman's ability to start a new 'Rory Era' in golf.

"Listen, when Rory's at his best, there's no one can live with him because he has the all round game," he said.

McIlroy said he never considered coming back to finish. He hit his second shot into a bunker in front of the 18th green and took two putts from 34 feet for the win.

"To win it in this fashion, it means a lot," McIlroy said. "I know that I can come from behind. I know that I can mix it up with the best players in the world down the stretch in a major and come out on top.

"Phil Mickelson, the second best player in this generation, to be able to beat him on the back nine on a Sunday It's great to have in the memory bank," he added.

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