Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy has won golf's British Open, capturing his third major championship in the past three years.
McIlroy carded a one-under-par 71 Sunday at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, to finish the four-day tournament at 17 under par. After starting his last round with a six-shot lead, McIlroy held off several challengers, chiefly American Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia of Spain, both of whom finished two shots behind in a second-place tie.
The 25-year-old McIlroy finished with a par on the 18th hole, pumped his fist several times and threw his golf ball into the cheering throngs in the bleachers surrounding the green. With the win, he secured the coveted Claret Jug and a first prize check for more than $1.6 million.
At his post-round news conference, McIlroy said the British Open is one tournament he's always wanted to win.
"It feels absolutely incredible, just to be sitting here and looking at this thing (Claret Jug) and have my name on it. You know, it's a great feeling, and it obviously hasn't sunk in yet, but I'm going to enjoy it and let it sink in tonight in the company of my friends and family," said he.
McIlroy won the U.S. Open in 2011 and the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) tournament a year later. With his British Open title, he has won three of golf's four major world titles, absent only The Masters tournament played each year in the U.S. in April.
His father, Gerry McIlroy, and three of his friends also won big on Sunday. A decade ago, when his son was a golf prodigy at age 15, the elder McIlroy and the three others wagered about $170 apiece that Rory McIlroy would win a British Open before he turned 26. Their winning 500-to-1 odds bet turned out to be worth nearly $342,000, or about $85,000 per person.