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Monday, 04 August 2014
Rory McIlroy  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

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A fortnight after holding off Sergio Garcia to win The Open Championship, Rory McIlroy overhauled his Ryder Cup team-mate to claim his first World Golf Championships event on Sunday - and with it reclaimed top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

McIlroy turned a three shot deficit into a two shot lead within the space of five holes in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, before Garcia battled back to leave the pair tied heading into the back nine at Firestone Country Club.

Garcia had played the same back nine in just 27 shots in his second round of 61, but it was McIlroy who came out on top two days later in a tense duel, the 25 year old carding a closing 66 to finish 15 under par.

With Adam Scott finishing outside the top five, that meant McIlroy reclaimed the World Number One spot he last held in March 2013, just in time for the final Major of the year, next week's US PGA Championship at Valhalla.

After 16 birdies in the first three rounds Garcia could only manage one in a closing 71 to finish 13 under.

"What I am really proud of this week is following on from The Open with a performance like this," McIlroy, only the second European winner of the title after Darren Clarke in 2003, said. 

"I said straight after I did not want any let down, I wanted to keep going and performing until the end of the season.

"It's great to come to one of my favourite tournaments of the year and to perform like this I am pretty satisfied."

McIlroy pulled his opening drive into the rough but had a gap through the trees and hit a superb low pitch to three feet, while Garcia had to settle for a par by two-putting from long range.

Three-time Major winner McIlroy then two-putted from long range on the par five second for another birdie and also birdied the third to take over the lead as Garcia bogeyed, but that did not tell half the story of an amazing hole.

Garcia's errant drive into the crowd somehow knocked the diamond out of a female spectator's engagement ring and after giving her a signed ball, the Spaniard asked for her contact information after hitting his second shot over the green.

Thankfully, the precious stone was quickly recovered but Garcia was unable to get up and down to save par and McIlroy holed from eight feet for a third straight birdie.

When McIlroy also birdied the fifth from five feet it meant a five shot swing had taken place in the space of five holes and gave the Northern Irishman two-shot lead.

Garcia desperately needed something to go in his favour and it happened on the eighth, McIlroy driving into the rough and finding a greenside bunker with his approach, from where he failed to get up and down.

Garcia then got back on level terms with a birdie from 15 feet on the ninth, McIlroy missing from just six feet.

That meant the pair went into the back nine tied on 14 under par but it was McIlroy who edged back in front with a birdie on the 11th from eight feet, Garcia then missing from a few inches closer.

The decisive moment then came on the par three 15th, where Garcia's tee-shot left of the green left him with a near-impossible pitch over a bunker and led to a bogey four.

That gave McIlroy a two shot lead with three to play and when Garcia failed to convert a birdie chance from ten feet on the 17th his chance had gone.

Low scoring had been the order of the day on the rain-softened course, five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson charging through the field with an eight under par 62 which featured ten birdies and two bogeys.

England's Lee Westwood had also found some welcome form after four consecutive missed cuts, the 41 year old carding a flawless 63.
 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
-BOWDITCH, StevenAUS -
-BRADLEY, KeeganUSA -
-CLARK, TimRSA -
-CRANE, BenUSA -
-DAY, JasonAUS -
-DELAET, GrahamCAN -

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