Rory McIlroy joined select company - two players prominent to the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance - when he completed his wire-to-wire victory July 20 in the 143rd British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf club in Hoylake, England.
McIlroy, 25, of Northern Ireland, beat Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia by two strokes to win his first Claret Jug, and he joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players since the 1930s to win their third major golf title by age 25.
Nicklaus, the Memorial Tournament Founder and host, was 25 when he won the 1965 Masters, which was the fourth of his record 18 major titles. Woods, who won his 14th and last major at the 2008 U.S. Open, won the 2001 Masters for his sixth major title at 25. Woods has won the Memorial Tournament a record five times.
McIlroy, who started the day with a six-stroke lead over Fowler, another 25-year-old talent, was in control from the outset, but he got a strong challenge from the California native and from Garcia. While many players put up low numbers, McIlroy struggled a bit under mostly sunny skies, but his one-under-par 71 was good enough for the victory with a 17-under 271 aggregate score, one shy of the record Woods shot at Royal Liverpool in winning the 2006 British Open.
"It's pretty hard to describe right now, to be honest," McIlroy said when adding the Claret Jug to his 2011 U.S. Open title and 2012 PGA Championship victory, each won by a whopping eight strokes. "All I know is that I won my third major championship and I'm, you know, three legs into the four towards a career Grand Slam at age 25. I'm feeling pretty good right now."
Fowler recorded his third consecutive top-five finish in a major this year and his second runner-up finish. He tied for second with Erik Compton in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 as Martin Kaymer won wire-to-wire. He and Garcia each got within two strokes on the back nine, but could get no closer, as McIlroy managed his game well enough to hold them off.
"I just kept going about my business," McIlroy said. "I knew that I was playing well, it wasn't like ... I made a little hiccup there on five, six and seven, but I was able to right the ship right there. The birdie on 10 was big. And then I knew Sergio was getting pretty close, but I knew I still had the par-fives coming up on the back nine, which gave me a little bit of peace of mind knowing that I could make a four on one or two of them and keep the lead at what it was."
Fellow American Jim Furyk finished fourth at 13 under after tying for low round of the day at seven-under 65 with Marc Leishman of Australia and Shane Lowery of Northern Ireland. The effort from the 2002 Memorial Tournament winner also was low round of the championship.
Furyk, 44, posted his sixth top-10 since missing the cut at last year's Open Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, won by Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy ended a run of three straight 40-year-old winners. Ernie Els, another Memorial winner, won the 2012 title and Darren Clarke was the 2011 champion.