McIlroy wrapped both hands around the Claret Jug after a brilliant tournament that had many observers wondering if they had just witnessed the dawn of a new era in golf.
Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee certainly seemed to think so: "Rory McIlroy is now one of golf's giants. We can't believe it either, but here we are. This 25-year-old kid, who arrived in this world right about the same time as the third Indiana Jones movie, is officially, certifiably, indisputably a legend."
His performance was dominant but not without drama, at least on the final day. Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler powered through the final round Sunday and finished just two strokes behind the Northern Irishman after shooting a 66 and a 67, respectively.
McIlroy's game was characterized by strong driving off the tee and the ability to make ridiculous approach shots look appallingly easy:
Here is the final leaderboard from the tournament:
The 25-year-old champion's performance was indeed a rarity in major tournaments, per ESPN Stats & Info:
At 25 Rory McIlroy is now three-fourths of the way to a career Grand Slam joining some very exclusive company pic.twitter.com/Md4iWsRKci— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 20, 2014
His three major wins have featured some excellent golf, as have the remainder of his 14 wins between the PGA Tour and the European Tour. However, the skill level McIlroy displayed at Royal Liverpool Golf Club was the best since his 2011 U.S. Open victory, which he won with a tournament-record final total of 268.
The British Open also had a big impact on McIlroy's standing in the world golf ranking, courtesy of Golf Digest's Ron Sirak:
New World Ranking Top 10: 1. Scott 2. McIlroy 3. Stenson 4. Rose 5. Garcia 6. Watson 7. Kuchar 8. Day 9. Woods 10. Furyk— Ron Sirak (@ronsirak) July 20, 2014
Garcia is clearly a considerable challenger in any tournament at this point in his career, although he is still looking for his first major victory. It's tough to finish 15 under and not come away with any hardware, but the 34-year-old Spaniard was gracious and optimistic in his post-tournament comments.
"I’m proud of the way I played,” Garcia said, via The Telegraph's Alasdair Reid. “I wanted to make [McIlroy] feel it a little bit and see how he would respond, and he obviously responded well. But I felt like I played well. I felt like I did almost everything I could. And there was a better player. It’s as simple as that."
Adam Scott held on to his No. 1 ranking and had a strong finish. He racked up an incredible 13 birdies over his final 27 holes of links golf, strong enough to vault up the leaderboard and tie for fifth place with fellow Aussie Marc Leishman.
McIlroy's youth, undeniable talent and consistency on the PGA Tour make him one of the best bets to become a household name alongside the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
While the latter two are very talented and always threats to win majors, every sport needs a new crop of talented and magnetic personalities to truly thrive.
Rivalries help too, and the emergence of Rickie Fowler in major tournaments and the consistency of Justin Rose and the aforementioned Scott can help create compelling storylines for future majors.