Journal De Bruxelles - McIlroy marches to second straight Canadian Open crown

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McIlroy marches to second straight Canadian Open crown
McIlroy marches to second straight Canadian Open crown / Photo: Vaughn Ridley - GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

McIlroy marches to second straight Canadian Open crown

Rory McIlroy fired 10 birdies in an eight-under-par 62 on Sunday to win the US PGA Tour Canadian Open by two strokes, defending the title he won in 2019.

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The Northern Ireland star survived some tense moments on the back nine, closing with birdies at the 17th and 18th to seal the victory with a 19-under-par total of 261.

American Tony Finau, who started the day tied for lead, carded his sixth birdie of the day at 18 for a six-under 64 that put him alone in second on 263 -- one stroke in front of compatriot Justin Thomas.

Thomas was tied for the lead with two to play, but closed with back-to-back bogeys in a 64 for 265.

"This is a day I'll remember for a long, long time," McIlroy said as fans -- who poured onto the fairway to surround the final trio on the 18th green -- cheerfully chanted his name.

It was his first chance to defend the title he won in 2019 after the Covid pandemic forced cancellation of the event in 2020 and 2021.

"Playing with Tony and JT today -- two of the top players in the world, all of us playing the way we did. I think the worst score in the group was what, six-under?"

McIlroy set an early tone with a 26-foot birdie at the first. He added a four-footer at the fourth, then chipped in at the sixth and made a short birdie at the seventh -- then got really hot with birdies at the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th -- where he poured in a 39-footer.

But Thomas wouldn't let him get away. After a birdie at the second the American birdied six in a row from the sixth through the 11th. His birdie at 14 -- after McIlroy bogeyed 13, saw the Northern Ireland star's lead cut to one stroke.

After McIlroy bogeyed 16 they were tied at 17-under -- but McIlroy finished with a flourish as Thomas faded and Finau drained a 40-foot putt at the 72nd hole to snatch solo second.

England's Justin Rose provided a curtain-raiser to the final-group fireworks on the par-70 St George's Golf and Country club course in suburban Toronto.

Rose flirted with the 13th sub-60 round in PGA tour history, but a bogey at 18 saw him settle for a tournament record-equalling 10-under par 60.

Rose launched his round in spectacular style with a hole-out for birdie from the fairway at the first. He added a seven-foot birdie at the second, a two-footer at the fifth and a chip-in at the seventh before a bogey at the ninth, where he was in a fairway bunker.

- Last-hole lapse -

The push continued on the back nine with a 17-foot birdie at the 10th, a 30-foot eagle at the 11th and a two-foot birdie at the 12th after a chip from deep rough.

He rolled in a six-footer at the 14th before his third eagle of the day at 15 moved him to 11-under. But Rose was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker at 16.

Even so he was back to 11-under after a birdie at the 17th, but after his tee shot trickled just off the fairway at 18 his second shot flew the green and he closed with a bogey.

Rose -- who had a real chance not only at 59 but even at Jim Furyk's PGA record of 58 -- admitted it was a disappointing finish "because you know what's at stake, for sure.

"I never shot 59 before, so it would have been a lovely footnote on the week," added Rose, who finished tied for fourth with Sam Burns, five shots off the lead.