HAMILTON– Rory McIlroy is a fan of national opens. He’s won Australia’s back in 2013. In 2016, he claimed his own national open in Ireland. And now, McIlroy can add the illustrious Canadian Open to his trophy case. With a dominant final round 61, it was a throwback to how McIlroy won his first two major championships.
Overpowering drives. Short iron shots. Efficient putting.
“I played with freedom,” said McIlroy after his round. “I was really proud of the way I kept being aggressive, even with the 54-hole lead.”
Aggression and Freedom Pays Off for Rory
After propelling himself to the top of the leaderboard in the third round, Rory McIlroy preached the importance of playing with aggression and freedom. With the wind not as bad as on Saturday, Hamilton Golf & Country Club yielded tons of birdie opportunities in the final round, if fairways are hit.
McIlroy asserted his stranglehold on the golf tournament right from the start. Birdieing five of the first seven holes propelled Rory to the top of the leaderboard. The rest of the field, including co-54 hole leaders, Matt Kuchar, and Webb Simpson, could not keep up. The formula was simple and repetitive for McIlroy: he would drive over 300 yards in the fairway. He would use small irons and wedges to land the ball close to the hole. And he converted birdies.
It is unsurprising that McIlroy led the field in strokes gained: off the tee (6.91), strokes gained: tee to green (15.3) and second in greens in regulation (76 percent). When he’s on his game, no one could overtake him.
“It’s a huge confidence builder, not just for next week, but for the rest of the season,” said McIlroy. “It’s been awhile since I played like this and put my foot down, which was nice to do in the final round.”
Rory McIlroy Embraced, Adored by Canadian Fans
There was one time where playing the RBC Canadian Open would not have been possible for McIlroy. The lone PGA Tour tournament in Canada used to take place the week after the Open Championship in July. But a PGA Tour scheduling change brought the RBC Canadian Open the week before golf’s third major, the U.S. Open. A new opportunity for the tournament to position and brand itself as an event the best golfers in the world come to prepare for a major championship.
But McIlroy could not have imagined the reception he received in Canada. It was electrifying. Every hole he went as he progressed through the final round, the cheers grew louder and were more boisterous. On Saturday, Rory labeled the Canadian Open as “one of the best atmospheres on the PGA Tour.” Sunday paved the way for McIlroy to back that claim up with a stellar performance. Now, he will forever be a fan favourite amongst the enthusiastic Canadian crowd.
“The reception from the Canadian crowds have been incredible this week,” said McIlroy. “They’ve been so welcoming all week. I can’t wait to come back next year.”
With the victory, McIlroy becomes the sixth golfer to have won the U.S. Open, Open Championship and the Canadian Open, known as golf’s Triple Crown. Heading to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach next week with a win is the impetus that McIlroy needed to once again contend at a major championship. With an all-around high-quality tournament, with the facets of his game firing at all cylinders, McIlroy is once again entering the conversation as one of golf’s best players.