Philadelphia, PA – For the second time in his young career, Rory McIroy blew away the field at a major championship.
He has won two majors by a combined 16 strokes.
McIlroy's margin of victory Sunday at the PGA Championship -- eight shots -- was the largest in tournament history, eclipsing Jack Nicklaus' old record of seven strokes set in 1980.
The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland is moving into esteemed company at a rather rapid pace. And who would have pictured that after his collapse at the 2011 Masters?
He rebounded from that debacle with a resounding win at Congressional. After three nondescript finishes in this season's first three majors, McIlroy trounced the field on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
So much for those four missed cuts in five starts earlier this year.
"I was a little frustrated with how I was playing earlier on in the year, but a few people in this room were probably pushing panic buttons for no reason," McIlroy said in the pressroom Sunday night with the Wanamaker Trophy sitting next to him.
"It's just great to be able to put my name on another major championship trophy, and looking forward to April next year and getting a crack at another one."
Interesting you should bring that up, Rory.
Tiger Woods normally starts all the major championships as the betting favorite. If McIlroy keeps racking up top-10 finishes between now and then, why wouldn't he be the betting favorite heading into Augusta in April?
We'll cross that bridge in about eight months, for now let's focus on what McIlroy did at Kiawah.
After Ian Poulter put together a stunning run with five straight birdies early in the final round, McIlroy answered with birdies at the second and third. Poulter tried to make another run on the back nine before falling by the wayside.
What didn't fade away was McIlroy's putting. He drained four birdies over the final 12 holes Sunday, to go with several clutch par-saving putts. For the week, he shared eighth place with 109 total putts.
As good as his final round was, it may have been the second and third rounds that won the Ulsterman this title. He struggled to a 3-over 75 in the worst conditions on Friday.
McIlroy made five of the seven bogeys he made all week in Friday's windy conditions. It could have been worse as his 75 was better than the field's scoring average by some three strokes.
He dropped a shot on Saturday just before play was called for the day and tripped to a bogey on his fourth hole Sunday morning. From there, he played the final 22 holes in 8-under par.
As he put his foot on the accelerator in the final round, no one else could keep pace. The players that made big moves in the final round -- like Seung- Yul Noh (65), Justin Rose (66) and Luke Donald (66) -- started too far back to make some noise.
This was McIlroy's second major championship and add that to Graeme McDowell's 2010 U.S. Open win and Darren Clarke's victory at last year's British Open, Northern Ireland has won four of the last 11 majors.
What that means is Northern Ireland, a country slightly larger than the state of Connecticut, has more majors than any other country dating to the 2010 U.S. Open.
In that span, the United States and South Africa have won three, with Germany's Martin Kaymer winning the other.
After 16 different major champions, McIlroy finally halted that streak with his second in the last seven.
That is far from Woods winning his 'Tiger-slam.'
It's far too early to start comparing and contrasting Woods' and McIlroy's careers, but suffice it to say Rory is off to a faster start at winning majors than Tiger was.
And that speaks volumes in and of itself.
WOODS LOSING THAT CLOSING TOUCH?
For the first time in his career, Tiger Woods failed to break par on the weekend at any of the four majors this year.
Eight rounds, zero under par.
He shared the lead after two rounds at both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. If he goes under par in one of those four rounds, maybe we're talking about him being one major closer to Nicklaus' record.
On the weekend in those two majors, Woods went 75-73 at the Olympic Club to tumble into a share of 21st and this past weekend, he posted 74-72 to slip into a tie for 11th.
"I was just trying to be a little bit happy out there and enjoy it, and that's not how I play You know how I am. I'm intense and I'm focused on what I'm doing and nothing else matters. I got back to that today and I hit some really good shots and I played the way that I know I can play," Woods said on Sunday of the difference between Saturday and Sunday.
Though he has a slim lead over McIlroy on the PGA Tour scoring average list, Woods is only tied for 50th in third-round scoring average and shares 33rd in final round scoring.
The guy wearing the red shirt on Sunday isn't what he used to be, but he still is better than most. Remember, he has won three times this year.
Woods has gone 18 majors without winning one. A lot people will focus on that number - 18.
Of course, that's because that's how many Nicklaus won, and that's the one number Woods has always stated he wants to beat.
* This past weekend, the PGA of America celebrated the 50th anniversary of Gary Player's first PGA Championship victory at Aronimink Golf Club. Knowing many people at that club as I do, nothing would make them happier than the PGA awarding them the next available PGA Championship in 2019.
* I had the pleasure of playing Bethpage Black two Monday's ago for the media for The Barclays. Despite the many thousands of rounds that course gets on yearly basis, it was in phenomenal shape. I found it interesting that they left the fairways at U.S. Open width from 2009. Tight fairways and thick rough await the world's best in a few weeks in Farmingdale.