British Open Winner 2014: Rory McIlroy's Dominant Win Is Biggest of His Career

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJuly 21, 2014

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland kisses the Claret Jug trophy after winning the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Sunday July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
Peter Morrison/Associated Press

Rory McIlroy has won major championships two other times, but his win at the 2014 Open Championship was his biggest. 

The 25-year-old led wire-to-wire as he outlasted a strong challenge from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. Here's a look at the final leaderboard.

As good as McIlroy was during the tournament, he wasn't smart enough to know that he shouldn't mention the fact that he's a Manchester United fan in front of a huge crowd in Liverpool.

Well, nobody is perfect.

The performance was impressive and congratulations came from all over the sports world for McIlroy.

By simply posting three names and numbers, the PGA Tour puts into perspective where McIlroy's win places him in the game's history. 

On the strength of a few epic collapses and a demeanor that makes him an easy target for critics, McIlroy had earned the label of a choker in his young career. Despite being favored or seen as a favorite in recent majors, McIlroy had struggled to deliver with such high expectations. 

This time around, he never faltered. After his first-round six-under 66, skeptics waited for the other shoe to drop. We'd seen McIlroy come out like gangbusters in 2012 with a three-under 67, only to come back with a five-over 75 on Friday.

Instead of falling back into his pattern of second-round futility, McIlroy showed maturity and poise in maintaining his near record-setting pace. He held fast as Fowler and Garcia kept the tournament from becoming a total rout.

In the process, McIlroy took all of the attention from Tiger Woods. As Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders points out, the tournament looked like a real passing of the torch:

While Woods stumbled to an embarrassing six-over par finish, McIlroy put on the type of performance we once saw from Woods on a regular basis.

Could it be that we've finally seen the last of the old Tiger and that the game is now McIlroy's to dominate?

That's probably a bit too premature, but there's no question how important the win was for McIlroy and how disappointing Woods' play was.

Tiger was optimistic, but because he is so competitive, you know the last four days hurt. Is McIlroy what Tiger used to be? Tiger doesn't think so. Per Ian O'Connor of, Woods sees McIlroy more like Phil Mickelson.

Woods said: "When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad."

Obviously, McIlroy had it going this time around.

He also came through with his first win since his very publicized breakup with former fiancee and tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki. Perhaps now McIlroy has finally moved on to the next level in his career. Apparently, McIlroy saw fit to making some changes in his personal life.

Questions abound as to how those changes would affect his play. If this performance is any indication, everything seems to be pointed in the right direction. Though McIlroy has won big before, this one just felt different.

And that's because it was.