In a Sunday round that proved to be one of the most compelling finishes to a tournament in quite some time, Rory McIlroy held off the talented trio of Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson to win the 2014 PGA Championship.
The major is McIlroy's second of the year—he won The Open Championship in July—and fourth of his career, a stunning achievement for the 25-year-old Northern Irishman. He's cemented his place not only at the top of the world's golf rankings, but as the brightest young star in the sport.
Here is a look at the top-12 finishers from the PGA Championship.
|2014 PGA Championship Final Leaderboard|
The complete leaderboard can be found at PGA.com.
For the financially curious, here is how the golfers' standings at the 2014 PGA Championship affected their wallets.
|1||Rory McIlroy||-16||$1.8 million|
|2||Phil Mickelson||-15||$1.08 million|
The full payout information can be seen at GolfWeek.com.
The biggest takeaway from this tournament, other than the obviously outstanding play and compelling finish, is the impact it will have on golf's position in the sporting landscape.
Tiger Woods brought plenty of eyeballs to the sport for years thanks to his ability to eviscerate the opposition in big majors and his compelling backstory, but times have changed.
He's hardly played in 2014, hasn't won a major since the U.S. Open in 2008 and any storyline surrounding his play will now be of the comeback variety, especially if he finally challenges for another major.
For golf to move forward into a brave new world, compelling rivalries might be the key. The final players on the course at Valhalla Golf Club are a good place to start.
McIlroy noted after the tournament that beating a player of Mickelson's caliber on the back nine was huge for him.
"Phil Mickelson, the second best player ... in this generation, to be able to beat him on the back nine on a Sunday, it's great to have in the memory bank and great to have in the locker going forward," said McIlroy, via ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor.
Mickelson has unfortunately grown accustomed to this position over the years, via SportsCenter:
Lefty is a fierce competitor in his own right and displayed plenty of passion for the game on Sunday. He won't stick around as long as McIlroy or Fowler, but he could definitely show the young guns a thing or two over the next couple of years.
It also helps that McIlroy's play tends to lead to drama, so long as the other golfers can keep up with him. On hole Nos. 14-18 in the tournament, McIlroy notched eight birdies, one eagle and avoided a single bogey.
His eagle on the No. 10 hole on Sunday brought him back into the tournament after falling behind to Mickelson and Fowler. McIlroy's developing a knack for closing out rounds, which definitely shifted the momentum his way at the end of each day.
Fowler has proven to be a "major" threat this year, in a very literal sense. SportsCenter gives the key statistic:
It was interesting to note that of Fowler's four near-misses at majors in 2014, this was the one that seemed to really get to him.
"This is probably the one that hurts the most for me," he said, via the New York Daily News' Hank O'Gara. "The first three were a lot of fun and obviously to be in great positions and to get great finishes. This one I felt like I could go out today and win it. I put myself in a good position. It stings."
The two holes that likely stand out to him are the bogey on the No. 14 hole and his potential birdie putt on No. 18 narrowly missing the hole, which mired him in third place instead of a tie for second with Mickelson.
His close calls and young age (25) make him one of the players to watch in majors heading into 2015. He needs to become more consistent in the smaller tournaments—he missed the cuts for tournaments seven times this year—in order to truly establish a rivalry with McIlroy.
One player who has been lost in the shuffle in Rory-mania is Adam Scott. He looked to be the next big thing in the sport after taking hold of the No. 1 ranking, but his time at the top was brief thanks to McIlroy. O'Connor gave his take on McIlroy's surge past Scott:
Opponents are almost afraid of the freight train McIlroy became after his victories at Hoylake and Firestone. They talk about his power and his aim and his fearlessness in ways they talked about Tiger Woods' weapons back in the day.
And Scott has to be thinking: Wasn't this supposed to be me they were talking about?
When he won the 2013 Masters at age 32, ending Australia's drought at Augusta National, Scott was hailed as the next big action star in golf. He had leading man looks and a blacksmith's arms and, oh yeah, he even had Tiger's old caddie on his bag.
Scott has the talent to battle back and fight McIlroy for his place at the top of golf's rankings. However, there will be plenty of other worthy competitors along the way. This should make for a very compelling year in 2015.