Saturday 20 July 2019

McIlroy: I can't explain win

Rory McIlroy was surprised to win following a
Rory McIlroy was surprised to win following a "weird" week at Wentworth

Rory McIlroy struggled to explain how he was left holding the BMW PGA Championship trophy at the end of a "weird" week at Wentworth.

Just four days after a visibly upset McIlroy revealed he had called off his wedding to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki after the invitations had been sent out, the 25-year-old carded a closing 66 to win the European Tour's flagship event following a rollercoaster final day.

With Thomas Bjorn squandering a five-shot overnight lead and Shane Lowry letting slip a three-shot cushion with just six holes to play, McIlroy led outright for the first time all week courtesy of a birdie on the 71st hole.

And another on the last gave the former world number one a winning total of 14 under par, with Lowry holing from 50 feet for birdie on the 18th to finish a shot behind. Bjorn and two-time winner Luke Donald were another stroke back in third.

In the aftermath of his split from Wozniacki, McIlroy revealed he had left his phone turned off and even given away his laptop, adding on Sunday: "When I was inside the ropes it was a little bit of a release. I was on my own, doing what I do best and it gave me four or five hours of serenity or sanctuary, whatever you want to call it.

"I can't explain it. It's obviously a week of mixed emotions. I am looking at the trophy saying 'How the hell did it happen?' I was asked in an interview how I feel and I don't know. I feel happy that I've won but it's been a weird week."

McIlroy began the final round seven shots behind Bjorn but kickstarted his challenge with an eagle from 15 feet on the fourth, his ball teetering on the edge of the hole for several seconds before dropping in.

Two bogeys and a birdie in the next five holes took McIlroy to the turn in 34 and left him three off the pace, but he chipped in for birdie on the 10th and picked up further shots on the 12th, 13th, 17th and 18th to seal his first professional win on European soil.

"It's been 18 months since I won on the European Tour and to win the flagship event, I could not have asked for any more," added McIlroy, whose seven-shot final-round comeback equalled the largest in the championship's history and also made him the first winner from Northern Ireland.

"I knew coming in here I was playing well. I struggled a little on Friday but played great over the weekend. I was a little fortunate that some of the guys ahead of me made mistakes and I took advantage of it.

"My caddie JP (Fitzgerald) set me the target of 15 under today. I didn't quite get there but 14 under was enough. I really wanted to win before going into the second major of the season (the US Open from June 12-15) and I could not have asked for a better way to prepare."

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