Nike’s Rory McIlroy back at world No.1 with win at Bridgestone Invitational
Rory McIlroy returned to the top of the world rankings after successfully holding off Sergio Garcia to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio by two strokes.
The Northern Irishman was treading on Garcia’s coattails as he followed the Spaniard by three shots at the start of the final day in Akron, but managed to claw his way to the front inside four holes.
McIlroy, who won The Open Championship last month, signed for a four-under 66 to finish on 15 under; leaving Garcia to close his account with a scrappy 71.
Tiger Woods was forced from the field midway through the round with a recurrence of his back injury which had side lined the Nike player since March.
It meant that Woods had to watch as McIlroy claimed both his first WGC victory as well as overtake Australian Adam Scott at the top of the world rankings, regaining the position he held back in March 2013.
McIlroy played some incredible golf at Hoylake last month and was keen to show there would be no hangover when he arrived in Ohio this week.
"I'm really proud of following up the Open with a performance like this. I wanted to keep going and keep performing until the end of the season," McIlroy told BBC Sport.
"It's great to come to one of my favourite tournaments of the year and to perform like this, I am pretty satisfied."
McIlroy opened his account with three straight birdies to take a one-shot lead on the final day and from there he never trailed the rest of the way, taking the lead for good with an eight-foot birdie on the 11th hole.
Garcia came into the final round and delivered two bogeys against one birdie – way short of his second-day exploits.
The TaylorMade golfer played the back nine in just 27 shots to total a record-equalling second round of 61; he hit a total of 16 birdies over his first three rounds.
However, Garcia failed to press his advantage with any momentum on Sunday, ultimately leaving himself short and having only won three times on the 16 occasions he has held the 54-hole lead.
Perhaps the most concerning news of the final day came in the form of Tiger Woods’ withdrawal from the event after eight holes. Woods aggravated the back problem he sustained in March after jumping into a bunker as he played a shot on the second hole, in what was only his third event since his return from back surgery.
Bridgestone Invitational final leaderboard
-15: Rory McIlroy (NI)
-13: Sergio Garcia (Spa)
-12: Marc Leishman (Aus)
-9: Justin Rose (Eng), Charl Schwartzel (SA), Patrick Reed (US), Keegan Bradley (US)
What’s in the winners’ bag?
Here is a complete list of the clubs Rory McIlroy used to win the 2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational:
Driver: Nike Golf VR_S Covert 2.0 Driver
Fairway Woods: Nike Golf VR_S Covert 2.0 Fairway Wood
Irons: Nike Golf VR Pro Blade Irons
Wedges: Nike Golf VR Forged Wedge Satin
Putter: Nike Method Putter 006