He told us so.
A day earlier, hours after the upstart completed its first-ever tournament, Rory McIlroy promised he and his boys with the old tried-and-true would put on a show. At the time, you could argue that he was standing his ground. The LIV Golf Invitational Series, with its Saudi-backed billions, had put the “professional game in disarray,” according to our headline. And the ball was now in the PGA Tour’s course.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure what’s going to happen over the final 18 holes here is going to be more entertaining than what other golf was played this week anywhere else,” McIlroy said.
Maybe you enjoyed the LIV product, and that’s your right. But on Sunday, during the final round of the Canadian Open, the Tour was in a groove. Birdies were abundant at St. George’s. Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan came onto the CBS broadcast and called LIV “an exhibition.” Former world No. 1 Justin Rose flirted with 59, before settling for just 60.
And McIlroy, one week before the U.S. Open, won. But that is ending. Please stick around. There’s much, much more to see.
McIlroy and Justin Thomas, two of golf’s biggest names, never left the top of the leaderboard. McIlroy, who started the day sharing a two-shot lead with Tony Finau, birdied 1. And 4. And 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12. He did it in every way, too — during the 6 through 12 stretch, four of his birdies came on putts of less than 4 feet; the other two came on rolls of 31 and 39 feet. His lead was now three.
McIlroy then bogeyed 13. And 16. And Thomas made his move, fueled by six birdies from holes 6 through 14. His run was all precision — he made no putt longer than 10 feet. Didn’t have to. After 16 holes, McIlroy and Thomas were tied. Then they quickly weren’t.
McIlroy answered back. He birdied 17 after hitting to 4 feet; Thomas bogeyed. The lead was two. McIlroy birdied 18 after hitting to 4 feet again. He shot an eight-under 62, and his victory was by two, over Finau. It was his 21st PGA Tour victory.
Which he knew. And knew whom he had passed.
“Twenty-first PGA Tour win, one more than someone else,” McIlroy said. “That gave me a little extra incentive today.
Who has 20 Tour victories, you ask?
Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV.
McIlroy told us so.
The U.S. Open won’t be boring.
The leaderboard breakdown
— Tony Finau and Rory McIlroy lead by two shots entering the final round. Finau and McIlroy are at 11-under, and Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, Wyndham Clark and Alex Smalley are at nine-under.
— McIlroy birdies the 376-yard, par-4 1st on a 26-foot putt, and he takes a one-shot lead. McIlroy is at 12-under, Finau is at 11-under, Clark is at 10-under, and Burns, Smalley and Thomas are at nine-under.
— Finau birdies the 465-yard, par-4 2nd on an 18-foot putt, and he moves back into a share of the lead. Finau and McIlroy are at 12-under, Clark and Thomas are at 10-under, and Burns and Smalley are at nine-under.
— McIlroy birdies the 476-yard, par-4 4th after hitting his approach to 3 feet, and he takes a one-shot lead. McIlroy’s at 13-under, Finau is at 12-under, Clark is at 11-under, and Burns and Thomas are at 10-under.
— Finau birdies the 436-yard, par-4 5th after hitting his approach to 4 feet, and he moves back into a share of the lead. Finau and McIlroy are at 13-under, Clark is at 11-under, and Burns and Thomas are at 10-under.
— McIlroy chips in from 31 feet away on the 217-yard, par-3 6th, and he reclaims a one-shot lead. He’s at 14-under, Finau is at 13-under, Clark is at 12-under, and Burns and Thomas are at 10-under.
— McIlroy birdies the 436-yard, par-4 7th after hitting his approach to 3 feet, and he takes a two-shot lead. McIlroy’s at 15-under, Clark and Finau are at 13-under, and Thomas is at 12-under.
— McIlroy birdies the 557-yard, par-5 9th after hitting into a greenside bunker with his second shot, and he leads by two. McIlroy’s at 16-under, and Clark, Finau and Thomas are at 14-under. Among the final group, McIlroy and Thomas shot 29 on the front nine, and Finau a 31.
— McIlroy birdies the 363-yard, par-4 10th after nearly chipping in from short of the green, and Thomas also birdies. The scoreboard reads as follows: McIlroy is at 17-under, Thomas and Justin Rose are at 15-under, and Clark and Finau are at 14-under. Notably, Rose is 11-under through 15 holes.
— McIlroy birdies the 530-yard, par-5 11th after hitting his third shot to 19 inches, Thomas also birdies, and McIlroy continues to lead by two. McIlroy is at 18-under, Thomas is at 16-under, and Clark and Finau are at 15-under.
— McIlroy birdies the 394-yard, par-4 12th on a 39-foot birdie, and he takes a three-shot lead. McIlroy is at 19-under, Thomas is at 16-under, and Finau, Clark and Rose are at 15-under. Through 12 holes, McIlroy is eight-under, and through 17 holes, Rose is at 11-under.
— McIlroy bogeys the 208-yard, par-3 13th after three-putting from 41 feet, and his lead drops to two shots. McIlroy is at 18-under, Finau and Thomas are at 16-under, and Rose and Clark are at 15-under.
— Rose bogeys the 454-yard, par-4 18th after hitting his second shot over the green, and his bid for a 59 falls one shot short. He shoots a 10-under 60 and finishes at 14-under overall.
— McIlroy misses a 3-footer for birdie on the 564-yard, par-5 15th, and his lead remains one. McIlroy is at 18-under, Thomas is at 17-under, Finau is at 16-under, and Burns is at 15-under.
— McIlroy bogeys the 189-yard, par-3 16th, and his lead is gone. McIlroy and Thomas are at 17-under, Finau is at 16-under and Burns is at 15-under.
— Thomas bogeys the 494-yard, par-4 17th, and McIlroy birdies it after hitting his third shot to 2 feet, and McIlroy takes a two-shot lead. McIlroy is at 18-under, and Thomas and Finau are at 16-under.
— McIlroy birdies the 18th after hitting his second shot to 4 feet, he shoots eight-under 62, and he wins by two. It’s his 21st PGA Tour victory.
The final word
“It’s incredible. Playing with Tony and JT today, two of the best players in the world, and all of us playing the way we did, yeah, this is a day I’ll remember for a long, long time.” — McIlroy on CBS afterward