They call it the X factor in sports; that something extra that the world’s leading sports stars possess and that they bring out when it really matters.
On Sunday at the Renaissance Golf Club in North Berwick in Scotland, it was Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy’s turn to show it off.
The 34-year-old McIlroy was one stroke behind the 26-year-old Scot Robert MacIntyre when he teed off on the 17th hole in the final round of the Scottish Open in strong winds.
MacIntyre was already in the clubhouse after completing the final round in 64 shots. He finished on 266 strokes (-14) and was very close to realizing his dream. And then McIlroy struck.
McIlroy, who has already won four Majors, rolled in a birdie putt on the short 17th hole to draw level with MacIntyre.
On the 18th hole, McIlroy decided to hit his approach to the green with a 2-iron.
It was near perfect and only landed about 10 feet from the can.
McIlroy, who described it as his best shot of the year, made no mistake with the birdie putt to win for the first time in Scotland.
He finished on 265 shots (-15); the perfect dress rehearsal for the British Open which starts on Thursday at Royal Liverpool.
He also earned almost R20 million with his victory and is once again second in the golf rankings behind the American Scottie Scheffler. He is now also the first player to win the British Open, Scottish Open and Irish Open.
MacIntyre was second (266), followed by Beyong-Hun An (South Korea), David Lingmerth (Sweden) and Scheffler, who all tied for third on 270 strokes (-10).
England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton, Tom Kim (Korea), JT Poston (America) and Nicolai Hojgaard of Denmark were joint sixth on 271 (-9).
South Africa’s Garrick Higgo (274, -2) also performed decently and earned R1.9 with his performance.
* At the Centurion country club outside London, the American Nelly Korda in the Aramco team tournament fended off an attack from Charley Hull (England) to win the American LPGA tournament by four shots.
Korda hit a five-shot lead on Sunday and shot 71 in the final round to finish at 208 (-11).
Hull, who shot 68 in the third and final round, finished on 212 (-7).
South Africa’s Nicole Garcia shot 72 in the final round to finish third at 214 (-5), for one of her best performances in recent years.
Another South African, Casandra Alexander, scored 77 shots in the final round and finished in 28th place on 223 (+4) after hitting among the leaders.