Rory McIlroy produced a brilliant birdie-birdie finish to seal his second consecutive Rolex Series title at the Genesis Scottish Open.
The now World Number Two entered the final round with a one-shot lead but on a dramatic day in high winds at The Renaissance Club, it was home hero Robert MacIntyre who threatened to seal a fairytale win.
The Scot played a stunning approach to the last to card a 64 and lead by one at 14 under but four-time Major winner McIlroy put his tee-shot to five feet on the 17th to share the lead.
The 34-year-old then produced some closing magic of his own, putting his approach to 11 feet and nervelessly holing his putt to sign for a 68 and seal a remarkable one-stroke victory.
McIlroy’s first victory on Scottish soil now goes alongside the Hero Dubai Desert Classic title he claimed in January in his Rolex Series collection and takes his tally of DP World Tour victories to 16.
He also becomes the first player to win the Scottish Open, Irish Open and Open Championship the week before he goes in search of a fifth Major at Royal Liverpool, where he lifted the Claret Jug for the first time in 2014.
World Number One Scottie Scheffler, South Korean Byeong-hun An and Swede David Lingmerth finished in a tie for third at ten under, with An, Lingmerth and Dane Nicolai Højgaard – who finished a shot further back – all earning spots in the field at next week’s Open Championship.
Lingmerth closed with a 66 and Scheffler and An both carded 70s to finish a shot ahead of Tyrrell Hatton, Højgaard, Tommy Fleetwood, Tom Kim and JT Poston.
There was some consolation for MacIntyre who was awarded the Jock MacVicar AGW Memorial Award as the leading Scot.
Rory McIlroy: “It’s amazing. For the Race to Dubai, for the FedEx Cup, for my confidence in general, but for all those things that I talked about at the start of the week and trying to win the title on both sides of the Atlantic again this year, this, will go a long way.
“This is right up there with the best of (my performances), especially after missing the short birdie putt on 16. I thought if I can birdie one of the last two and get into a play-off, that would be a bonus.
“To finish two-three in these conditions, the two iron shots that I hit, the five iron into 17 and the two 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.
“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.
“It’s nice to have the validation. The validation; it’s great racking up top fives, top tens, but it’s much nicer heading away with a trophy on Sunday afternoon. It’s a great shot of confidence. Again, going back to that little nugget about the Australian Open in 2013, having something fresh in my memory if I hopefully find myself in a similar position next week where I’ve got a chance to win with nine holes to go, I can certainly draw on what I did here today; that I can get myself in the mix again.
“If he (MacIntyre) can shoot 64 on a day like today, he can do anything. I mean, that was an unbelievable round of golf. And it’s great to see him back in form, as well. Obviously he had the win in Rome last year, and then he sort of went off a little bit but it’s nice to see him hitting some form again, especially at an important point of the year when he’s looking to try to make that Ryder Cup.”
Robert MacIntyre: “I’m really proud of myself, me and Greg and the whole team behind me. I’ve put in a hell of a lot of work the last five, six weeks with all the changes going on in my team; the trust of switching back to Shanks when I really needed him. I felt great in my golf, and I felt great in myself in the last wee while. But I’m happy and smiling, and Greg has done a great job of keeping me happy and smiling, and you know what, we can play good golf from there.
“I’ll never forget it. I had to take a minute coming off 18. I mean, that’s why I play this sport. That’s why I’m in The Scottish Open, and if not The Open, The Scottish Open will be up there with the event I want to play for the rest of my life. It’s one I’ve dreamed of winning since I watched at home, and I thought today coming down once I birdied 18, I thought, this might be the one. But it’s not to be just now, and plenty of years ahead.
“I mean, last week, I felt like I had two hands on the trophy and I let it go. This week, I was nowhere near it. I wasn’t even within touching distance of the trophy and went out there and put in a performance. And yeah, just Rory McIlroy’s potentially the best in the world, and he showed why today. Take my hat off to him.
“Just looking forward to next week. Just go out there and play golf the same way. There’s going to be a little expectation, a lot of talk from the media and stuff, but for me, same people going down next week, not as big a house, no tennis court, but we’ll have fun.
(On winning the Jock MacVicer Award) “I spent a lot of time with Jock over the years since my junior days at Scottish Golf. I remember when he passed, I went down to his funeral down at Dunaverty, and I thought so much of Jock and we go on and we’d always sit and chat before any media stuff. It’s unbelievable to get an award like that. I got an award from Adam — my coach, and it’s unbelievable to get one from Jock. He was one of the best men in golf.”