WENTWORTH: Rory McIlroy completed a roller-coaster week by coming from seven shots back to win the European PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday. The Northern Irishman - who announced his split from tennis star Caroline Wozniacki on the eve of the tournament - fired a sparkling six-under par 66, for an aggregate of 274, 14-under par, to win by a shot from Ireland’s Shane Lowry. Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn surrendered a five-shot lead by the time he had got to the seventh tee after a disastrous seven on the sixth but still had a faint chance of victory after birdies at the 16th and 17th.
Bjorn, aiming for his 16th European Tour win, had to settle for a share of third place with England’s Luke Donald with both finishing on 276, 12-under. Henrik Stenson boosted his chances of becoming world number one later in the day when he eagled the par-5 17th and finished on 280, eight-under par, and in a tie for seventh. The Swede had to wait until current number one Adam Scott had finished playing in the Colonial Invitational in Texas to see if he could overtake the Australian and Tiger Woods to claim the top spot. McIlory came home in 32 with five birdies including fours at the par-5 17th and 18th holes. On the 18th he hit his second into a greenside bunker but chipped out to five feet and punched the air when holed the putt.
Donald, Bjorn and Lowry - his chief dangers by now - were in the groups behind. Lowry could not get the eagle he needed at the 18th to force a play-off and when Donald hit his approach into the water on the last only Bjorn could catch the world number ten.
Remarkable few days: Bjorn needed an eagle at the finishing hole but his third shot failed to find the cup, and he finished with a 75, and the European Tour’s flagship title was in McIlroy’s hands for the first time. It caps a remarkable few days for the two-time major winner McIlroy after hitting the headlines with his emotional revelations of the break-up of his engagement on Wednesday. And more remarkably McIlroy has rarely performed well at Wentworth - having a best finish of fifth in 2009 and two missed cuts in the last two years. His comeback from seven shots off the pace equals the record for this event, Simon Khan did a similar rescue job in 2010, and is the first time he has won a European event actually held in Europe.
McIlroy got his round going with an eagle three at the fourth but was knocked back by bogeys at the sixth and ninth before streaking home in five-under par. He chipped in at the tenth for a two to go to 10-under and took the lead with a birdie at the 12th and the pair of fours at the last two holes set a target no-one could match. Bjorn started to unravel when he drove into a fairway bunker at the sixth and took two to get out of the hazard before hitting his fourth shot into a greenside trap.
He chipped out to around 12 feet but his putt for a six drifted right of the hole and all of a sudden the tournament was wide open for the first time since the Dane shot a 62 on the opening day. Donald had similar trouble at the sixth - also taking seven he found bushes and bunkers. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher surged up the board to finish in a tie for fifth alongside England’s Simon Dyson they shot 66 and 67 respectively whilst Germany’s Marcel Siem had a 68 to finish in a share of seventh with Stenson, South Africa’s Thomas Aikien, Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal and Francesco Molinari from Italy.
AUCKLAND: When good neighbours become good friends. Perhaps not on Saturday (today) at Eden Park ...