Rory McIlroy won the WGC Match Play crown at Harding Park in San Francisco, as he defeated American Gary Woodland 4&2 in Sunday’s final. This is his 10th US PGA Tour victory, which came on the eve of his 26th birthday; only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have previously managed 10 wins on the PGA Tour before the age of 26.

It was a long Sunday for the Northern Irishman, as he claimed three wins in one day; the quarter-finals started late on Saturday and McIlroy’s match with Paul Casey had to be stopped and resumed at 6.45 am local time on Sunday, when he also played the semi-final against Jim Furyk, as well as the final with Woodland.

Due to the late finish on Saturday, McIlroy also missed to see the epic fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao live in Las Vegas, as he initially planned, but had to watch it on television at Harding Park.

In the semi – final match against Furyk, McIlroy was put under pressure; when he was one down, with two holes remaining, he demonstrated a stunning play; he went for birdie on the 17th and ran in a huge putt across the 18th green for an eagle to seal his win.

In the final with Woodland that followed, both players were nervous at the start and did not play their best; the world number one putted poorly, but soon stabilised his play and put a string of four birdies. The American, the world No 52, was erratic with his driver and could not find the fairways for his first couple of tee-offs. Nevertheless, he improved his stroke play at the start of the ninth, and won holes 11 and 12, but failed to put the pressure on McIlroy when he was on the 13th, as he missed from five feet out. He also three-putted the 14th and made a mess of the 16th to hand his opponent the title.

The Northern Irishman is moving on to the Players Championship this week with high self-belief, as he will be going for his 11th PGA Tour win. Many argue that the 21 year-old American Jordan Spieth, who last month spectacularly won the Masters, is after McIlroy’s title, so the champion has to push himself harder, to remain at the top.

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