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Wells Fargo Championship 2021: Rory McIlroy Earns 1st PGA Tour Win Since 2019

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2021

Rory McIlroy tees off on the seventh hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

Rory McIlroy held off Abraham Ancer to win the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday.

McIlroy went three under in the final round to finish at 10 under for the tournament, one shot better than Ancer. Viktor Hovland and Keith Mitchell tied for third at eight under.

This is his first victory on the PGA Tour since the WGC-HSBC Champions in November 2019.

The 32-year-old narrowly avoided a meltdown after badly hooking his tee shot on the par-four No. 18. He missed the creek, but the rough surrounding the water was so thick that it made an approach all but impossible.

McIlroy took a drop and got onto the green in three. From there, he two-putted to seal the title.

          

Wells Fargo Championship Leaderboard

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1. Rory McIlroy (-10)

2. Abraham Ancer (-9)

T3. Keith Mitchell (-8)

T3. Viktor Hovland (-8)

5. Gary Woodland (-7)

T6. Matt Wallace (-5)

T6. Patrick Reed (-5)

T6. Luke List (-5)

T9. Bryson DeChambeau (-4)

T9. Aaron Wise (-4)

Full leaderboard available at PGATour.com

         

Mitchell entered Sunday with a two-stroke lead on McIlroy and Gary Woodland at nine under. He was unable to make any progress, though, with a pair of bogeys on the front nine canceling out his birdie on No. 1. That opened the door for McIlroy to stake his claim for first place.

McIlroy put together a bogey-free round before his hiccup on No. 18, a refreshing change from how the past few seasons have unfolded. Per PGATour.com, his 70.13 scoring average in the fourth round was 81st on the tour in 2020, and he was on an even worse pace (71.00, 138th) to begin the current campaign.

When McIlroy did find himself in trouble, he expertly danced out of danger.

His tee shot on No. 3 sailed to the left and into the rough. He dropped his approach to within seven feet of the cup and sunk his birdie putt.

An impressive par save came on No. 11. McIlroy sliced his tee shot badly into the trees lining the fairway. Hitting out of the pine straw, he got back onto the fairway just short of the green.

A playoff looked like it might be in store until McIlroy birdied the 14th hole and earned another birdie to solidify his spot atop the leaderboard.

Ancer surged on his back nine, birdieing No. 11 and gaining three strokes between No. 15 and 17. A par on No. 18 brought the run to an end, and having teed off nearly an hour before McIlroy, he had to watch from the clubhouse and hope the four-time major champion slipped up.

Mitchell provided McIlroy with a helping hand when he bogeyed No. 17 to fall to eight under. His playing partner ultimately needed a healthy buffer on the last hole.

With the Wells Fargo Championship concluded, the PGA Tour heads to TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, for the AT&T Byron Nelson. Sung Kang, who missed the cut this weekend, remains the event's defending champion after the 2020 edition was scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Byron Nelson will serve as the final tuneup prior to the PGA Championship.

Dustin Johnson (+1000) heads into the second major championship as the betting favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas trail closely behind at +1200. After Sunday, McIlroy will likely see his odds (+1400) improve a bit.

             

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