DUBLIN • Rory McIlroy ended a six-month winless drought and captured a first Irish Open title with a three-under 69 final round yesterday.
The Northern Irishman thrilled the home crowd, particularly with his penultimate shot. With a fairway wood in hand from 253 yards, he hit the ball to within four feet of the cup.
He went on to record an eagle on the par-five 18th. He had mixed three birdies with two bogeys prior to finishing on 12-under 276 for the tournament.
Welshman Bradley Dredge (66) and Scotland's Russell Knox (68) were three strokes behind and shared second place at the European Tour event.
Tournament host McIlroy had to return to the course at 7.30am local time yesterday to complete his third round, after two lengthy weather-related stoppages late on Saturday at the K Club course.
He had been nine under at the time and proceeded to par the 16th, 17th and 18th holes for his first bogey-free round since the third round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in March.
SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL
I don't really get emotional when I win, but I was holding back the tears there. To play like that and finish like that, with all of my friends and family watching was just so special.
It also gave him a three-shot lead going into the final round. And the world No. 3 held out for his first victory anywhere since his triumph last November in the European Tour season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
World No. 2 Jordan Spieth was also seeking to return to the winners' circle at the PGA Byron Nelson Championship yesterday.
He remained second after Saturday's third round, two strokes back of leader Brooks Koepka. The reigning US Open champion fired a three-under 67 in his hometown tournament, taking a bogey at the 18th.
Fellow American Koepka rescued a closing par with a 10-foot putt to shoot 65 and seize the 54-hole lead on 16-under 194.
"It's nice to go into the final round with a two-shot lead," he said. "I hit the ball terribly... but I'm putting it so well."
Spain's Sergio Garcia (68) and Americans Matt Kuchar (65) and Bud Cauley (68) shared third on 197.
Spieth is trying to pull off a comeback victory after missing the cut in the previous week's Players Championship and suffering a last-day meltdown at the Masters, where a back-nine fade cost him a second consecutive Green Jacket.
He sank four-foot birdie putts at the fourth and par-five seventh, closed the front nine with a birdie and hit a three-foot birdie putt at No. 11 to reach 15 under.
"I was in some really tough spots and was a very stressful round of golf to play because I just don't have confidence over the ball right now," Spieth said, after making bogeys at Nos. 14 and 18 following tee shots that found the water and the trees respectively. "It's very frustrating and I'm actually putting incredibly to still be in this tournament."