If there were any doubters left wondering whether Rory McIlroy would fold under the pressure of a big lead in the final round of the 2011 U.S. Open Championship, they were quickly silenced Sunday.
McIlroy birdied two of the first four holes and cruised to his first major championship victory with a closing round 69, good for a record-breaking 16-under-par score and an eight-shot victory over his closest competitor, Jason Day.
At 22 years old (plus 46 days), McIlroy was also the second youngest player to win a major since World War II.
The only blemishes on McIlroy's day four scorecard were bogeys at 12 and 17.
And so impressive was his run at Congressional, they were only his second and third bogeys of the entire week and only the fourth hole out of 72 where he was not at par or better.
To say it was an amazing run would be a drastic understatement.
Naturally, comparisons are already being made to Tiger Woods and his 12-under-par, 15-shot victory at the 2000 U.S. Open. Woods set or tied nine tournament records at Pebble Beach that year. McIlroy, now just 22 years old, won this U.S. Open by eight shots. He was 16 under par and set or tied a total of 12 U.S. Open records—including the scoring marks for 36, 54 and 72 holes.
It's difficult to say which victory was more impressive, but McIlroy is certainly in the same conversation with Woods. It will be interesting to see—if Woods can return to his previous form, or something close to it—if the two can form a rivalry over the next few years.
McIlroy has a long way to go to achieve Tiger Woods-type dominance. But he's off to an impressive start with his emphatic first major championship win.