Rory McIlroy Wins Second-Straight RBC Canadian Open

Rory McIlroy Wins 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy poses with the trophy after winning the RBC Canadian Open at St. George's Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston / R&A via Getty Images)

For the past week, the golf world has been largely focused on the rift between the PGA Tour and Greg Norman‘s upstart LIV Golf Tour, with a number of prominent players resigning from the former in favor of the guaranteed money offered by the latter.

On Sunday, Rory McIlroy reminded the world that the best players still make their living on the long-running PGA Tour, shooting a stellar 8-under 62 to win the RBC Canadian Open by two strokes over Tony Finau.

It was the 21st win of McIlroy’s Tour career, which he proudly noted after his round, is one more than Aussie legend Norman, who is the CEO of the LIV Tour. (Norman recently referred to McIlroy as “brainwashed,” regarding the Northern Irishman’s public criticism of his efforts.)

It was also a successful championship defense for McIlroy, who won by seven strokes in the 2019 edition, the last time the event, which dates back to 1904, had been held. There was no tournament held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.

Rory McIlroy RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy waves to the crowd after winning the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis via Getty Images)

Held at Ontario’s St. George’s Golf and Country Club, McIlroy began the fourth round tied with Finau at 11-under, and he could not afford to give up much on Sunday, as a number of players on the leaderboard were in absolutely exceptional form. With McIlroy, Finau, and recent PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas being engaged in a Sunday shoot-out.

And a number of groups ahead of him put serious pressure on the leaders with an all-time great round. England’s Justin Rose exploded out of the gates, and when he carded his third(!) eagle of the day, he reached 11-under through 15 holes of the par 70 course.

McIlroy himself could not have gotten off to a much better start either. He played his first seven holes in 4-under, and then put on a clinic with his approach game, adding additional birdies on 9, 10, 11, and 12, putting he and Rose firmly on 59 watch.

McIlroy was unable to shake Thomas, however, who had started round 4 just two strokes back of McIlroy and Finau. Thomas birdied six holes in row from 6 to 11, and suddenly, he too was 7-under through 11 holes. It was looking like an historic day unfolding amongst the fervent Canadian crowd.

Rory McIlroy Wins 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy celebrates after winning the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis via Getty Images)

Needing to play his last three holes in even-par to shoot 59, Rose carded a bogey on 16, but birdied 17 to keep his sub-60 hopes alive. Unfortunately for Rose, a former world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion, a hot approach shot on the final hole sailed over the green, and he was unable to get up-and-down to save par. Rose’s final tally was a 10-under 60, in spite of having three bogeys on the card.

McIlroy also cooled off, missing a three-foot par put on 13 for his first bogey of the day, and when he added another on the par 3 16th, he and Thomas were co-leaders with just two holes to go, and Finau still in the mix as well, two strokes back of McIlroy and Thomas.

That is when McIlroy took back control of the tournament, landing his approach into the par 4 17th green to two feet, which he tapped in for birdie, while Thomas drove into the rough and then missed a 14-foot putt for bogey.

Two ahead with one to go, McIlroy had his only hit fairway of the back nine, and converted another birdie. Finau holed a 40-footer for birdie himself to take solo-second after Thomas bogeyed the 18th hole as well. It was McIlroy’s second win of the season, having won October’s The CJ Cup @ Summit.

In all, it was a 62 for McIlroy to finish the week at 19-under, with Finau shooting a bogey-free 6-under 64. It was also a 64 for Thomas, in spite of the bogeys on the final two holes.

Rose, who started the day seven strokes behind McIlroy and Finau, finished in fourth place at 14-under, tied with a red-hot Sam Burns, who just two weeks ago won the Charles Schwab Challenge for his third victory of the 2022 season. Burns shot a 5-under 65 in the final round.


2022 Canadian Open


Top-10 Finishers

Pos-Player-Score (Final Rd)
1. Rory McIlroy -19 (-8)
2. Tony Finau -17 (-6)
3. Justin Thomas -15 (-6)
4. Justin Rose -14 (-10)
4. Sam Burns -14 (-5)
6. Corey Conners -12 (-8)
7. Keith Mitchell -10 (-4)
7. Chris Kirk -10 (-4)
7. Wyndham Clark -10 (-1)
10. Danny Lee -9 (-5)
10. Shane Lowry -9 (-4)
10. Matt Fitzpatrick -9 (-3)


How Rory McIlroy Won The RBC Canadian Open

Rory McIlroy Wins 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley via Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy opened the week at St. George’s strong, with a 4-under 66 putting him just three off the lead. With a 68 on Friday and a 65 on Sunday, he tied himself atop the leaderboard with Tony Finau heading into the final day.

With ten birdies in the final round, McIlroy finished the week with 26, which led the field. He had just seven bogeys for the tournament.

His game this week was remarkably well-rounded, as he finished seventh or better in all six strokes gained categories, including first in strokes gained: tee-to-green, where he gained 14.2 strokes on the field for the week. Despite hitting just six fairways on Sunday, he hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation.


What It Means For McIlroy

Rory McIlroy Wins 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd after winning the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis via Getty Images)

With the victory, Rory McIlroy moved up from eighth to third in the world rankings, the first time he has been in the top three since August of 2020. It is hardly new territory, though, as he has ranked as high as first, with his 106 weeks atop the OWGR being the fourth most of all time, behind Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Dustin Johnson.

McIlroy is likely to feel some pressure heading into the U.S. Open next week, as he attempts to snap a winless streak in majors going back to the 2014 PGA Championship. Since that win, he has posted 15 top-10s in majors without a victory, with seven of those being in the top five including a solo-second back in April at The Masters. He won the U.S. Open in an eight-stroke rout back in 2011, his first career major win.

Winning a major the week after winning on Tour is rare, but McIlroy should be encouraged that the last time it happened was when he won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational the week before winning the 2014 PGA Championship.


Sunday’s Stars

Canada's Corey Conners 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Canada’s Corey Conners poses with as trophy after finishing as the top Canadian player after the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis via Getty Images)

Rory and Rose were the stars of the final day, both looking like serious 59 threats on the back-nine. They were far from the only ones who were especially great on Sunday, though.

No Canadian-born player has won the Canadian Open since Pat Fletcher took the 1954 edition. No one from the home country was seriously in the mix either, but it was an excellent final round for Corey Conners, who shot an 8-under 62 to finish solo-sixth, the best result from a Canuck this week.

Starting the day in 19th place, the 30-year-old was bogey-free, allowing him to make the large jump on the final leaderboard. He hit 11 of 13 fairways and 17 of 18 greens in regulation on Sunday.

World No. 1 and reigning Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler put together yet another strong Sunday, bouncing back from a surprising 71 on Saturday to shoot a 4-under 66 that allowed him to jump 11 spots from T29 to T18. Four victories and two runner-ups on the season have given Scheffler a nearly insurmountable lead in the FedExCup standings, and the good finish this week should have him feeling confident for next week’s U.S. Open.

Among the two players to rise a field-high 25 spots on the Sunday leaderboard was former Masters champion Danny Willett of England, who moved from T53 to T28 with a 5-under 65, in spite of a double-bogey six on the fourth hole.

The other was Sweden’s Jonas Blixt, who made the same move as Willett. Blixt has been struggling badly in recent years, and prior to his T28 this week, he had made just two cuts in 14 starts with nothing better than a T42.


Sunday’s Stumbles

Wyndham Clark 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Wyndham Clark poses with the Claret Jug after qualifying for The Open Championship, following The Open Qualifying Series, part of the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston / R&A via Getty Images)

Wyndham Clark was the low man through 18 holes, opening the week with a 7-under 63, and was just two behind McIlroy and Finau heading into the final day. He actually kept pace with the leaders well past the turn, but after reaching 6-under through 13 holes, bogeys on 14, 15 and 17, and a double-bogey on 18 caused him to fade to a 1-under 69.

He dropped from T3 to T7, a difficult finish as he tried to take the last open position at next week’s U.S. Open. However, Clark did manage to earn a spot in the British Open, after leading the field in strokes gained: putting for the week, something that has been a strong part of his game all season.

After shooting 3-under 67 in each of the first three rounds, little-known Alex Smalley found himself just two strokes off the 54-hole lead, but with four bogeys on his last five holes, Smalley shot a 3-over 73 and fell from T3 to T21. The rookie season for the 25-year-old rookie has been mostly a success, however, as he has had six finishes inside the top 25 in 23 starts, and looks like a lock to keep his Tour card after this season. He was runner-up in March’s Corales Puntacana Championship.

Sunday’s biggest drop came courtesy of Bo Van Pelt, who shot a field-worst 6-over 76 to drop 38 spots from T15 to T53. The 47-year-old has made just two cuts in ten starts on the season, with a high finish of T24 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in early February.


Quotable

Rory McIlroy Wins 2022 RBC Canadian Open
Rory McIlroy walks the course during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and CC on June 12, 2022 in Etobicoke, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston / R&A via Getty Images)

“Yeah, it means an awful lot. I feel like it’s getting tougher and tougher to win on the PGA Tour. Even, just look at the two guys that I played with today. I went out with a lead and had to shoot 8-under par to get the job done. So the depth of talent on this Tour is really, really impressive. And going up against guys like JT and Tony and coming out on top, that’s something to feel really good about. So, super happy to get that 21st win, and to defend, even though it doesn’t feel like a defense because it’s been so long.”
Rory McIlroy, RBC Canadian Open Champion

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