In the aftermath of his stunning Scottish Open victory, Rory McIlroy admitted the 2-iron shot he hit into the 18th at the Renaissance Club to set up the decisive birdie was up there with the best shots he's hit this year.
The Northern Irishman began the day one clear of Tom Kim, with a host of other big names lurking behind, but it was home hero Robert MacIntyre who pushed the four-time Major winner to dig deep and produce a finish worthy of winning any golf tournament.
MacIntyre set the target in the clubhouse at 14-under after final-hole heroics of his own as he attempted to become just the second Scotsman to win the country's national open. The man from Oban was in the rough up the left of 18 and carved an incredible fairway wood into three feet for a birdie that looked certain to land him a third DP World Tour title after McIlroy failed to take advantage of the par-5 16th.
Trailing by one with two of the hardest holes on the course still to play, McIlroy feathered a 5-iron into eight feet on the par-3 17th to draw level before turning his attention to the brutal closer, which had yielded just two birdies all day.
Sizing up a 201-yard approach into a stiff Scottish breeze, McIlroy showed why he's one of the game's most prodigious talents as he rifled an iron shot through the wind and onto the green to the amazement of those in attendance and tuning in around the world.
WHAT. A. SHOT.@McIlroyRory leaves 10ft for birdie to win back-to-back Rolex Series events 🤩#GenesisScottishOpen | #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/FMkntQdATsJuly 16, 2023
"I was right between 4-iron and 2-iron," he said, describing the added predicament he faced. "I took 3-iron out at the start of the week, and it probably was a perfect 3-iron. But 4-iron was only getting to the front edge of the green.
"2-iron, had to cut it and try to get it up into the wind a little bit and I just hit this 2-iron and it came off absolutely perfectly. Probably the best shot I hit all year. It was exactly the way I wanted to play it. When you hit a shot like that, I felt like I deserved to hole that putt to finish it off."
Here's another incredible angle of McIlroy's moment of magic.
The scene. The moment. The noise. The ball flight. The club twirl. The talent.#GenesisScottishOpen | #RolexSeries pic.twitter.com/FsADosNr2gJuly 16, 2023
McIlroy is no stranger to producing the goods when it matters most, despite his recent run of near-misses. In winning the Irish Open in 2016, a sublime 3-wood into the last at the K Club set up a closing eagle that sealed an emotional victory.
Asked how this winning shot compared, he added: "Better, yeah. Just the conditions. I usually hit that 2-iron 260 in the air but it was from 201 yards. That's how strong the wind was, it was a 60-yard wind."
Amazingly, the victory was McIlroy's first in Scotland, the Home of Golf, so where would he rank it on his roll of honour?
"This is right up there with the best of them. To finish 2, 3 in these conditions, the two iron shots that I hit, the 5-iron into 17 and the 2-iron into the last are probably two of the best shots I've hit all year, and then to finish them off with the putts as well.
"Yeah, it feels absolutely amazing. I've had a few close calls recently so to get over the line and get this bit of confidence going into next week and the rest of the season is huge."
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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