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McIlroy eyes Masters 2015 for career Grand Slam

Alex Perry at Royal Liverpool
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Rory McIlroy is three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam © Getty Images
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Barely an hour after sinking the putt that confirmed he had become the Open champion, Rory McIlroy was thinking ahead to next year's Masters and completing the career Grand Slam.

McIlroy carded a final-round 71 at Royal Liverpool on Sunday to clinch his third major title - adding to the 2011 US Open and 2012 PGA Championship already in the bag.

McIlroy led at Augusta after each of the first three rounds in 2011, before a final-day 80 saw him end way down the field. But he will head to Georgia's most hallowed turf next year looking to become just the sixth player in the Masters era to win a career Grand Slam.

"To sit here at 25 years of age and with my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to the career Grand Slam..." he said, before pausing to gaze at the Claret Jug. "I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly.

"The Open Championship was the one I really wanted growing up, and the one I holed so many putts on the putting green to win, to beat Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, whoever.

"The more I keep looking at this trophy and seeing my name on it, the more it will starting sinking in, but I'm already looking forward to driving up Magnolia Lane next year and trying to complete the Grand Slam at The Masters."

"I've really found my passion again for golf. Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed.

"I just want to be the best golfer that I can be. And I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability.

"I want to win a lot more."

Sergio Garcia, who finished in a tie for second with Rickie Fowler, said he was proud of the way he "made McIlroy win it".

"Rickie and I tried to push him as hard as we could," said Garcia after finishing as a major championship runner-up for the fourth time in his career - his 19th top-10.

"But it is difficult when you're in a situation where you know you cannot make a mistake. It just puts that little extra pressure on you.

"So many good things happened throughout this week and it was close.

"I'm proud of the way I played. I wanted to at least make him feel a little bit and see how he would respond.

"He obviously responded well, because I got within two, but every time I got closer he kept making one birdie and not letting me get any closer than that.

"I was excited since I woke up this morning. There's no better feeling. It's what we practice for and why we love doing this."

Like McIlroy, Fowler is thinking ahead to another tournament. He said: "Two words to sum it up: Ryder Cup."

Fowler, who joins Ernie Els and Jesper Parnevik as the only players to shoot four rounds in the 60s at The Open and not win, added: "It's similar to being one of the only guys at the US Open to be under par and not win.

"Rory just kind of distanced himself from the field a bit, but it's hard to be disappointed about it because it was such a great week.

"But it doesn't feel like a big stage. It feels like I should be here.

"There's plenty more to come."

Rory McIlroy clung on to win The Open by two strokes © Getty Images
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