TORONTO: Rory McIlroy admitted he had been motivated by pulling clear of Greg Norman’s PGA Tour title haul after surging to victory Sunday at the Canadian Open.
McIlroy bagged the 21st PGA Tour win of his career in an enthralling final round in Toronto, carding an eight-under-par 62 for a two-shot win.
It came at the end of a momentous week in the golfing world, which is in turmoil following the launch of the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf series fronted by Australian veteran Norman.
McIlroy, who was level with Norman on 20 PGA Tour victories prior to this week’s event in Canada, said going one better than the polarizing Norman’s total was especially satisfying.
“I had extra motivation of what’s going on across the pond,” McIlroy said. “The guy that’s spearheading that tour has 20 wins on the PGA Tour and I was tied with him and I wanted to get one ahead of him. And I did.
“So that was really cool for me, just a little sense of pride on that one,” added McIlroy, who did not mention Norman directly bv name. McIlroy fired 10 birdies on Sunday en route to successfully defending the title he won in 2019.
The Northern Ireland star survived some tense moments on the back nine, closing with birdies at the 17th and 18th to seal the victory with a 19-under-par total of 261.
American Tony Finau, who started the day tied for the lead, carded his sixth birdie of the day at 18 for a six-under 64 that put him alone in second on 263 – one stroke in front of compatriot Justin Thomas.
Thomas was tied for the lead with two to play, but closed with back-to-back bogeys in a 64 for 265.
“This is a day I’ll remember for a long, long time,” McIlroy said as fans – who poured onto the fairway to surround the final trio on the 18th green – cheerfully chanted his name.
‘Proper golf tournament’
It was his first chance to defend the title he won in 2019 after the Covid pandemic forced cancellation of the event in 2020 and 2021.
“Playing with Tony and JT today – two of the top players in the world, all of us playing the way we did. I think the worst score in the group was what, six-under?” added McIlroy after what he described as a “proper golf tournament.”
McIlroy set an early tone with a 26-foot birdie at the first. He added a four-footer at the fourth, chipped in at the sixth and made a short birdie at the seventh – then got really hot with birdies at the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th, where he poured in a 39-footer.