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McIlroy works for early birthday present


McIlroy works for early birthday present

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Rory McIlroy had to work harder than ever to win the Match Play Championship.

No one ever had to play seven golf matches in five days, and McIlroy won them all in the new round-robin format. He had to beat three players on the same day, a first in the 17 years of this tournament. And three times, he stood on the 17th tee trailing.

McIlroy didn’t need a comeback in the final Sunday afternoon. He won four straight holes on the front nine against an errant Gary Woodland, survived a brief scare and wound up with a 4-and-2 victory for his second World Golf Championship.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” McIlroy said.

Three weeks after Jordan Spieth won the Masters and emerged as the most likely rival, McIlroy reminded the world of his No. 1 ranking.

He became the first No. 1 seed since Tiger Woods in 2008 to win the most unpredictable event in golf and collect his 10th PGA Tour title. He joined Woods (29) and Jack Nicklaus (17) as the only players with at least 10 PGA Tour victories at age 25 or younger.

McIlroy turns 26 on Monday.

“Every time I have a win, I keep hearing those guys’ names come up,” McIlroy said. “It’s great to be mentioned with the likes of Tiger and Jack, the two greatest players that I think have every played this game. I’m on my journey. I’ll see where I get to.”