It was three years in the making, but one for the ages as Rory McIlroy successfully defended the RBC Canadian Open title he first won in 2019 on Sunday at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.
The title he won at Hamilton Golf and Country Club three years ago was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the pent-up desire to witness golf at its top level turned into a noisy, flag-waving, board-banging event that became an apparent adoption of McIlroy as a Canadian, even if that’s an honoruary title.
“I’ll take it, for sure, the support and the love I’ve got. I’ve only played in Canada twice, in Hamilton and then here. It’s been two pretty good trips, but yeah, look, the fans are amazing,” said McIlroy.
“They come out and they support this event really well. I think they just really appreciate the fact that we come up here and play in your national championship,” he said.
“Yeah, if there was some honourary Canadian citizenship bestowed upon me I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. That would be a very proud thing for me,” he added.
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) June 12, 2022
It was the first successful title defence on the PGA Tour by McIlroy, his 21st victory, one that put him into 31st place on the all-time wins list.
McIlroy couldn’t resist pointing out who he surpassed on that list, that being Greg Norman, who is heading up the rival LIV Golf tour, which held its inaugural event in London, England, opposite the RBC Canadian Open.
McIlroy has been a supporter of the PGA Tour through all of the controversy, but he needed an eight-under 62 to win on Sunday.
At 19 under, he finished two shots up on Tony Finau, who fired a 64 of his own on Sunday, and four ahead of Justin Thomas, who also shot a 64 and seemed ready to take the win until a couple of late bogeys on 17 and 18.
“I feel like it’s getting tougher and tougher to win on the PGA Tour. Just look at the two guys that I played with today. I went out with a lead and had to shoot eight under par to get the job done,” said McIlroy.
“So the depth of talent on this tour is really, really impressive and going up against guys like JT and Tony and coming out on top, that’s something to feel really good about,” he said.
“Just to play in a final group like that with that atmosphere all day. I mean the fans here this week have just been absolutely unbelievable, like so good and so cool to play in an atmosphere like that – boisterous, loud, but respectful. It was really, really cool,” he added.
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) June 12, 2022
Justin Rose eagled his first hole, one of three on the day, and flirted with 59, but bogeyed two of his last three to finish with a 60 and tie for fourth with Sam Burns at 14 under, the same score that won it the last time the RBC Canadian Open was played at St. George’s in 2010.
“That was a fun day. I’ve enjoyed being in Canada this week. All in all, I think playing an old school golf course, it’s a tournament I haven’t been to for awhile. I felt like the fans and the crowd and the energy the whole week’s been good,” said Rose.
“To get off to a good start to the, holing my second shot into the first hole I felt like was a lovely lift. I was kind of able to keep the pedal to the metal today and keep the momentum going and played my way into a great position to try and win the tournament, so it was a lot of fun,” he said.
Corey Conners shot a bogey-free, eight-under 62 on Sunday to finish sixth and win the Rivermead Cup as low Canadian in the tournament.
“I definitely felt like the last few days I played really solidly, the last few weeks even, just hadn’t maximized the game, hadn’t got as much out of the game as I wanted,” said Conners.
“It’s definitely nice to have a low round today. I played really well. Yeah, definitely felt it coming. You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself out there, but I knew if I was just patient and kept trusting the game, then good things were going to happen and nice to have a good score today,” added Conners, who is off to Brookline, Mass., for the U.S. Open.
“I feel very positively about all parts of my game, disappointed to come up a little bit short here, didn’t quite get as much out of the game as I could the first few rounds, but a lot of positive mojo going into the U.S. Open next week,” he said.
Adam Svensson tied for 21st at six under after he shot a final round 67. Mackenzie Hughes and Nick Taylor each tied for 28th at four under, with Adam Hadwin another shot back in a tie for 35th. Adam Cockerill tied for 48th at even par.
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Stephen Ames closed the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wisc,, with a five-under 67 that left him tied for 14th.
Ames finished all four rounds at eight under.
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