If a golf tournament were to last 71 holes, Adam Scott would be hoisting a trophy right now and celebrating his sweep of the Australian majors.
Of course, nothing is truly over until all 72 holes are completed, and while Scott will go home with two big wins in his home country, Rory McIlroy will be the one toasting to victory tonight.
It looked for all the world like Scott would be able to put McIlroy away, but with bookend bogeys in the final round, he allowed the former world No. 1 to hang around. Going to the 18th hole, Scott likely needed only to make par – something he had done each day previous – to close the deal.
Then it all fell apart. Scott hit his approach to the 18th green a hair long and to the right and the ball rolled through the green. On the ensuing pitch, Scott attempted to nestle the ball in tight and it skipped through, leaving a lengthy putt just to save par. When he missed, he opened the door for McIlroy to end it without a playoff, and the Ulsterman rose to the occasion, sinking his 12-footer for the win and earning the victory that had eluded him all year.
“I wanted to get a win by the end of the season, and finally I’ve been able to get one,” McIlroy said in a post-round interview, before graciously acknowledging the home crowd’s hero. “But more satisfying than that is to take one of the top players in the world and come out on top down the stretch. I’m sorry that I was the one to sort of ruin the Triple Crown for him, but he’s a credit to this game and a credit to his country.”
McIlroy also allowed himself a few smiles when he was asked who he would contact first following the long-awaited win. “I’ll probably call Caroline [Wozniacki], my girlfriend,” he said, before mentioning his parents. Hopefully that puts all the questions about his relationship affecting his game to rest.
All in all, even though it wasn’t a PGA Tour or European Tour event, this win should allow McIlroy to start the new Tour season strong in the new year. He went toe to toe with one of the hottest players on the planet, right in his back yard, and won. No matter who you are, that is quite the impressive feat. After such a down year, it’s hard to say “he’s back,” but anybody who slept on McIlroy’s chances just got a big-time wake-up call.