•McIlroy started poorly in final round but recovered with round of 68
•Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson main challengers
•World No 1 has now won three successive tournaments, two majors
•Rory now has four majors, all at the age of 25
They will be talking about this day for as long as majors are played. A day when Rory McIlroy followed up his victory at the Open Championship with a win in the 96th USPGA Championship that was quite simply as thrilling as sport gets, never mind golf.
No doubts now the Northern Irishman is on the fast track to greatness. This was his fourth major championship win out of the last 15 played, and all at the age of just 25. Welcome to the Rory era, and what an exciting time it is going to be.
The weather-delayed conclusion proved one worth waiting for as two gunslingers from Europe fought with two more from America in what became an epic shootout.
Here we had everything, from dazzling strokeplay to consummate sportsmanship as Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler congratulated one another with every birdie they made as they fought tooth and nail to claim the season’s final major.
Two groups ahead was Henrik Stenson, returning to the gold standard of 12 months ago when he was the golfing man of the year. And then there was McIlroy.
Strangely subdued on the front nine, he stood over his second shot to the par five 10th trailing Fowler and Stenson by three shots and Mickelson by two. It was a situation that called for an instant response and, from 250 yards, he delivered. His marvelous shot finished just 7ft from the hole and the place went wild when he rolled in the eagle putt. It was the shot that changed everything.
Two beautiful iron shots to the 11th and 12th holes went unrewarded but there was a joyous fist pump when he rolled in a 12-footer at the 13th. McIlroy, seeking his second major in four weeks, was now fully dialled in and drilled his drive down the 16th. It was the longest drive all day by 17 yards on that hole. You could say he was pumped up.
At the 17th, he played a nine iron from a bunker that finished 8ft away, and he rolled in the putt. What a display. This was as good as Tiger Woods in his pomp.
As McIlroy made his move Fowler stumbled, pushing his tee shot to the difficult par three 14th and running up a bogey. At the 16th Mickelson made his first bogey in 22 holes.
All of it was played out in a desperate race against darkness – and they just about made it. Down the par five 18th, McIlroy and his partner Bernd Wiesberger played the hole almost in tandem with Mickelson and Fowler. Mickelson, trailing by two, almost chipped in for an eagle. Fowler lipped out cruelly for a birdie.
And so it was left to McIlroy, who found himself needing to get down in two from 20ft in the near dark. He did so to complete his third win in a row. As he tapped in from six inches, he let out an exultant roar of triumph, and pumped his arm again and again. At the Open he had embraced his mum Rosie on the 18th green. This time it was the turn of his dad Gerry.
At the prize presentation, PGA president Ted Bishop dropped the lid of the massive Wanamaker Trophy – but trust Rory to catch it. ‘This has been incredible, never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would have a summer like this,’ said McIlroy. ‘I think I showed a lot of guts out there, and I’d like to thank Rickie and Phil for letting us play up. They showed a lot of class and sportsmanship.’