Rory McIlroy rallies late to win Genesis Scottish Open, first PGA Tour title of 2023
Rory McIlroy was close to letting yet another PGA Tour lead frustratingly slip away on Sunday.
By the time McIlroy reached the 17th tee, Scotland’s own Robert MacIntyre, behind a miraculous birdie from the left fescue on 18, posted a Sunday 64 and passed the World No. 3, posting 14 under.
McIlroy needed a par and a birdie over the final two holes, two of the hardest on the course, if he was to tie. He did one better.
On 17, he judged the mounds in the front of the green perfectly, bouncing a 5-iron from 190 on the front and curling it around to just four-and-a-half feet for birdie. After making it to tie MacIntyre and then driving just off the fairway on the 18th, McIlroy again showed his clutch gene.
After changing from a 4 to a 2-iron, McIlroy hit a bullet from 205 to just 11 feet, rolled in the putt to shoot 68 and finished at 15 under for his first PGA Tour title in 2023. The putt seemed to waver in the breeze, and McIlroy didn’t seem to think it would drop. He broke into laughter and looked up at the sky when it disappeared.
“I’ve had a few close calls recently, so to get over the line and to get this bit of confidence going into next week and the rest of the season is huge,” McIlroy told CBS’ Amanda Renner on the 18th green.
It’s McIlroy’s 24th career PGA Tour victory, 16th on the DP World Tour and second on both tours this season. He had been playing as well as anyone in the world the past few weeks, finishing in the top 10 in each of his previous five starts going back to the PGA Championship, including a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open.
In three of those, he held at least a share of the lead at one point during the final round, but couldn’t get the job done.
But after hitting what he called two of his best shots of the season on the final two holes, his fortunes changed at the perfect time.
“This is right up there with the best of them,” McIlroy told CBS of his two clutch final holes. “I thought if I could birdie one of the last two and get into the playoff, that would be a bonus. To finish 2-3 in these conditions … it feels absolutely amazing.”
The birdies from McIlroy and MacIntyre were just the second and third on the 18th hole Sunday, which played more than six-tenths of a shot over par despite the tees being moved up nearly 30 yards because of the winds. MacIntyre badly fanned his tee shot left on the final hole toward the fescue, but drew a fantastic break finding a mowed-down path and muscled a fairway wood to just four feet.
The 26-year-old’s final-round 64 was the best of the day by two strokes in his bid to become the first Scot to win his national open since 1999.
Now McIlroy, who wins on European soil for the first time since the 2016 Irish Open, heads south to Royal Liverpool, where he was already the favorite for the 151st Open. McIlroy won his only Open Championship there in 2014.
Before his most recent major title at the 2014 PGA Championship, McIlroy won the week prior at the Bridgestone Invitational.
“It’s a great shot of confidence,” McIlroy said. “Having something fresh in my memory if I hopefully find myself in a similar position next week where I’ve got a chance to win with nine holes to go, I can certainly draw on what I did here today.”