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McIlroy captures Bridgestone Invitational title

8/7/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, won the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club Aug. 3.
Sergio Garcia, of Spain, started Aug. 3 ahead by three strokes, but lost to Rory McIlroy.
Tiger Woods, an eight-time World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational winner, followed an opening-round 68 with rounds of 71 and 72. On Aug. 3, he withdrew from the tournament due to back spasms.
Photos: Craig Marks
AKRON — At the World Golf Championships (WGC)-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club Aug. 3, Rory McIlroy delivered. Neither rain, nor Sergio Garcia nor impending darkness of night could stop him from a victorious final round.

McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, shot a four-under 66 to overtake Garcia, of Spain, who came into the day ahead by three strokes. McIlroy completed the two-stroke victory a little after 7 p.m., the final round having been delayed due to morning rain. He finished 15 under (69-64-66-66).

Though only 25, McIlroy has a long list of accomplishments, including a win at the British Open two weeks ago. (Garcia finished second by two strokes in that tournament, as well.) In his press conference after the Bridgestone Invitational, McIlroy called a WGC victory “sort of the only thing missing.”

“It’s great to finally get one here, one of my favorite venues of the year,” said McIlroy, who is now the top-ranked golfer in the world.

McIlroy started the day red hot, getting birdies on the first three holes. Garcia parred the first two holes and bogeyed No. 3, setting up a two-player dual for the rest of the day. Other golfers tamed the South Course on Sunday — Phil Mickelson shot a 62, his best ever at Firestone — but no one came within shouting distance of McIlroy and Garcia.

Before the weekend began, the tournament had the makings of a 2013 repeat, when Tiger Woods shot a second-round 61 and never looked back. This year, it was Garcia who shot a 61 on Friday, tying the course record and getting birdies on the final seven holes.

“It’s just one of those rounds that I will always remember,” said Garcia, whose 27 on the back nine is a course record.

As for Woods, the 2014 Bridgestone Invitational is not likely to get a page in his memory book. The eight-time Bridgestone winner followed an opening-round 68 with rounds of 71 and 72. On Sunday, he withdrew from the tournament due to back spasms.

Woods’ name came up in McIlroy’s press conference when McIlroy was asked about winning a major and a WGC event back-to-back.

“Yeah, this is, of course — it’s what I always dreamed of,” he said. “I grew up watching Tiger dominate in this tournament and dominate pretty much everywhere else he played. Yeah, I dreamed of one day trying to do something like that.”

During the trophy presentation, PGA Deputy Commissioner Jay Monahan said to the gallery, “Northeast Ohio, in a year of Johnny Manziel and LeBron James, it’s almost silly you would have the world’s number one, the hottest player on the planet as your champion.”

When it was McIlroy’s turn to speak, he said he wasn’t sure if he belonged in that group “but I’ll take it” and added, “Ohio is really buzzing at the minute, and I’m glad to be able to put my name on the trophy.”

Next week, McIlroy will try to get his name on another prestigious trophy, that of the PGA Championship. The event will be held at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

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