Rory McILroy’s fairway-wood second shots from 273 yards and 252 yards to the 16th and 18th greens announced his return to form, providing the impetus behind his victory in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at the K Club in Kildare, Ireland, on Sunday.
McIlroy, the tournament host who hails from Northern Ireland, trailed Russell Knox by a stroke when they came to the 16th hole. McIlroy produced a two-putt birdie, while Knox three-putted for bogey, allowing the former to reclaim the lead.
At the par-5 18th hole, McIlroy’s second shot stopped two feet short of the hole, leading to an eagle and a three—stroke victory over Knox and Bradley Dredge. McIlroy shot a final-round three-under par 69.
“Russell made a couple of really good birdies there on 14 and 15,” he said. “To go from one shot ahead to one shot behind, I stayed as patient and relaxed as I could. I knew my length would be an advantage with the holes coming up. But I didn’t really expect to go for two at 16. I don’t know if many people went for that green in two all week. But I hit a perfect drive, right on the line I wanted. So that shortened the hole a little bit.
“Still I had 273 into that pin on 16. I needed to do something. That was the turning point in the round and the tournament. I needed to get something going. I stepped up there and tried to make as committed a swing as I could and it worked out for me.”
The victory was McIlroy’s first since the DP World Tour Championship in November and came at an opportune time, the beginning of the run-up to the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club next month.