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Game of risk pays 
off for Rory

RORY McILROY has revealed how he gambled on rivals Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler not making an eagle in a frantic finish to the US PGA Championship on Sunday.

With daylight fading fast following a rain delay of almost two hours, Mickelson and Fowler stood aside on the 18th hole to allow the final group of McIlroy and Bernd Wiesberger to tee off.

That ensured they would have the option to finish the hole and is common practice, but what was not so common was McIlroy hitting his approach to the 18th as well before Mickelson and Fowler attempted to catch him with an eagle three on the par five.

"We were cool with hitting the tee shot," Fowler said. "We weren't expecting the approach shots. It changes things a little bit. Obviously, there is no waiting. Phil and I waited on the tee for a good amount of time and had to hit tee shots.

"In a way, they (McIlroy and Wiesberger) never got out of rhythm as far as hitting the golf shots."

Mickelson, who came agonisingly close to holing his pitch, stopped short of criticising the situation in a television interview afterward but was clearly agitated on the green.

"It didn't affect the outcome I think," the left-hander said. "It's not what we normally do but it's not a big deal. It's a courteous thing to let the guys tee off in case they blow the horn. It gave everyone a chance to finish just in the nick of time."

McIlroy was quick to acknowledge the act of sportsmanship after hitting his second shot into a greenside bunker and securing the par which sealed a one-shot win over Mickelson and 
a second major title in four weeks.

"They could have just left us on the tee box there and just play normally," McIlroy said. "But they showed a lot of class and a lot of sportsmanship doing that.

"I thanked Rickie and Phil in the scorer's area and reiterated what I said in my speech out there on the 18th green.

"At that point in time, I had a two-shot lead. I saw both their second shots and I saw that they had finished down on the bottom right side of the green. I knew it was tough.

"I know Phil came awfully close to holing that third shot but at the same time, I knew par was probably going to be good enough, and if I had to and try and make birdie with that third shot out of the bunker, I would have been a little more aggressive with it and obviously tried to get it up on the top level and try and make a four.

"But I just sort of weighed up the probability of everything and I was 75, 80 per cent certain that those guys were not going to make eagle. So it made my job a little easier."

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell believes McIlroy can win as many major titles as he wants, as long as he remains healthy and motivated.

"It's beginning to look a little Tiger-esque I suppose," ­McDowell (pictured, right)said of McIlroy's winning streak, which includes a first World Golf Champion-
ship event sandwiched between the Open and US PGA.

"I said at the Open I didn't think we were going to see someone creating their own kind of 
Tiger-esque era just yet.

"I'm not eating my words but guess you could say I'm ­certainly starting to chew on them right now. When the kid is playing well, he's pretty tough to live with. It's pretty special stuff."

Asked if McIlroy could match Woods' total of 14 majors or the 18 of Jack Nicklaus, former US Open champion McDowell added: "Knowing Rory as I have the last few years, it didn't seem to me like he was trying to beat Jack's record. So it's a case of how the guy continues to motivate himself.

"You don't know what the number is. It's however many he wants. He'll win as many majors as he wants, within reason.

"Rory has obviously got himself in amazing shape physically now as well and it's just a case of how fit and healthy he can stay. No doubt the game is more physical now. We are seeing more withdrawals and back injuries and neck injuries and stuff going on with guys than we ever have. To me, it's 10 per cent staying healthy and 90 per cent how many he wants to win."

World Rankings

(post-PGA Championship)

1. (1) Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland).............. 11.27

2. (2) Adam Scott (Australia)............................9.28

3. (4) Henrik Stenson (Sweden)........................8.22

4. (3) Sergio Garcia (Spain)................................7.75

5. (5) Justin Rose (Britain)................................7.45

6. (8) Jim Furyk (U.S.).................................... 6.87

7. (6) Matt Kuchar (U.S.).................................. 6.66

8. (7) Bubba Watson (U.S.).............................. 6.60

9. (13) Phil Mickelson (U.S.)............................. 6.28

10. (9) Jason Day (Australia)............................ 6.28

11. (10) Tiger Woods (U.S.) ..............................5.75

12. (11) Jordan Spieth (U.S.)............................. 5.50

13. (18) Rickie Fowler (U.S.)............................. 5.42

14. (12) Martin Kaymer (Germany)...................... 5.31

15. (14) Zach Johnson (U.S.)............................. 4.97

16. (15) Graeme McDowell (Northern Ireland).... 4.87

17. (17) Dustin Johnson (U.S.)........................... 4.85

18. (16) Hideki Matsuyama (Japan)................... 4.80

19. (20) Jimmy Walker (U.S.)........................... 4.38

20. (19) Charl Schwartzel (South Africa).............. 4.24

Rory McIlroy added the US PGA title to his Open Championship win to become the 12th player to win back-to-back major titles since the advent of the Masters in 1934. Here we lists the other golfers to have achieved the feat.

Craig Wood - 1941 Masters and US Open

Ben Hogan - 1951 Masters and US Open, Oakland Hills; 1953 Masters, US Open and Open.

Sam Snead - 1951 US PGA and 1952 Masters.

Arnold Palmer - 1960 Masters and US Open.

Lee Trevino - 1971 US Open and Open.

Jack Nicklaus - 1971 US PGA, 1972 Masters and US Open.

Tom Watson - 1982 US Open and Open.

Nick Price - 1994 Open and US PGA.

Tiger Woods - 2000 US Open, Open, US PGA and 2001 Masters; 2002 Masters and US Open; 2006 Open and US PGA.

Phil Mickelson - 2005 US PGA and 2006 Masters.

Pádraig Harrington - 2008 Open and US PGA.


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