Rory McIlroy wins the Scottish Open, hopes to “break the seal for me” ahead of the British Open

JOLLAN, Scotland — Rory McIlroy smashed the last two holes in a strong wind on Sunday for a 2-under 68 to win the Genesis Scottish Open, his first win on Scottish soil, and a huge confidence boost in the major final of the year.

McIlroy was one shot behind Robert McIntyre when he played the ramp to near perfection on the par-3 17th for a 4-foot birdie putt to tie the lead. Then, he threw what McIlroy called his best shot of the year — an iron 2 into the wind to 10 feet for one last birdie.

It was heartbreaking for McIntyre, who was trying to win his Nationals slot and provided a class shot of his own. MacIntyre pumped the 3-putt from the 18th hole at The Renaissance Club to a 4-foot par, pumping his fists as he dropped to 64.

It was a remarkable closing run given the winds were so rough and ruthless from the Firth of Forth, and I looked even longer that it would give the 26-year-old McIntyre a defining victory of his young career.

Instead, it was McElroy, who played ninth at fullback in the 31 and capped off two clutches for his first win since the Dubai Desert Classic.

The victory came at the perfect time. McIlroy heads south to Royal Liverpool at the British Open, as he attempts to end his nine-year drought at major tournaments. McIlroy won the claret jug last time The Open was played at Royal Liverpool in 2014.

“It was a difficult day — very difficult,” McIlroy said. “To play this fullback nine on 4 under par to win the championship, I’m really proud of the way I stayed out there. I hit some amazing shots up the stretch. It’s an incredible feeling. I feel like it’s been six months since I won in Dubai. I gave myself a lot of chances, and I hope this win breaks the seal for me, especially next week.”

McIlroy finished at 15-under 265 and passed John Rahm to No. 2 in the world.

Scotty Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player, finished with a score of 70, tied for third with Byung Hun An (70) and David Lingmirth (68). Scheffler has finished among the top five in his last seven tournaments, two of them grand slams.

An and Lingmerth secured a consolation prize by winning places in the British Open, which were awarded to the three leading players not already exempt. Last place goes to Nicolai Hoggard (67), who will join twin brother Rasmus at Royal Liverpool.

Chanting MacIntyre’s name all week throughout the renaissance club, the Scottish crowd cheered as the putter threw the woods and three birdies to the 18th, one of the toughest holes on the tour.

McIntyre was so caught up in the moment that he had to hold back his tears leaving the green.

“I will never forget him. I had to take 18 minutes off,” he said. “If it wasn’t for the Open Championship, the Scottish Open would be up there with the event I want to play for the rest of my life. It’s one I’ve been dreaming of winning since I watched it at home, and today I thought I’d land it once I fly 18, I thought, that might be the thing. But it doesn’t have to be just now.

“Rory McIlroy is probably the best in the world, and he showed why today.”

McIlroy matched it with a fine shot.

He was 201 yards from the pin, dead in the wind, his perfect 3-iron—except McIlroy decided to trade his 3-iron for a 2-iron for a stormy week.

“The four-iron was just leading me to the front edge,” McIlroy said. He needed to hit a 2-iron with a slight cut and a little elevation to allow the wind to go some distance, and it “came out absolutely perfect.”

“It’s probably the best shot I’ve had all year,” McIlroy said. “When you hit a shot like that, I feel like I deserve to put holes in my putt to finish it that way.”

The tournament is jointly sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour. McIlroy has extended his lead at the top of the race to Dubai, although he still has some work to do to catch Bram and Scheffler in the FedEx Cup.

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