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McIlroy holds off Garcia to reclaim world No.1 spot

ESPN staff
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Rory McIlroy began the day three shots behind Sergio Garcia © Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy will head into the PGA Championship next week on a high after he came from behind to beat Sergio Garcia at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio.

McIlroy trailed the Spaniard by three shots heading into the final round at Firestone Country Club, but the Northern Irishman carded a four-under 66 to beat Garcia by two shots to lift the title on 15-under.

McIlroy has also reclaimed the world No.1 spot for the first time since March 2013 as Adam Scott failed to finish inside the top five to keep hold of the ranking.

In the driving seat

Rory McIlroy has found form again with his driver © Getty Images
  • For the true golf geeks, for the ones who follow the intricacies of a golfer and his equipment and the sometimes maddening twists and turns of what goes in and out of his golf bag, Rory McIlroy's run of recent excellence may be traced to last autumn.
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"What I am really proud of this week is following on from the Open with a performance like this," said McIlroy after becoming just the second European winner of the title after compatriot Darren Clarke in 2003.

"I said straight after I did not want any let down, I wanted to keep going and performing until the end of the season.

"After winning three majors, PGA Tour events, European Tour events, the Ryder Cup … a World Golf Championship was the only one missing from the CV.

"It's great to come to one of my favourite tournaments of the year and to perform like this I am pretty satisfied."

McIlroy and Garcia went head to head at The Open in the final round a fortnight ago - where eventual champion McIlroy led by six shots after three rounds but saw the gap reduced to two on the final day. At the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, the roles were reversed as it was Garcia who held the advantage over McIlroy going into the final round.

Torrential rain forced play to be suspended earlier in the day, with play beginning 75 minutes later than scheduled.

Garcia's three-shot lead disappeared in as many holes as McIlroy made three birdies to lead by one. Garcia had two pars and a bogey on the third as he was too cautious with his approach shots.

Garcia's wayward drive on the same hole went into the crowd and managed to knock the diamond out of a female spectator's engagement ring. The diamond was found after Garcia gave her a signed ball.

Striking the ball well, McIlroy opened up a two-shot lead at the fifth. However, he encountered trouble at the eighth as he found the rough from his tee shot and then landed in the bunker. He almost saved par but had to settle for a bogey, which allowed Garcia to close the gap to one shot.

A superb birdie from 15 feet brought Garcia level as McIlroy could only manage par on the par-4 ninth.

McIlroy reclaimed the outright lead after he made birdie from eight feet at the 11th and Garcia missed from the same distance, and after Garcia bogeyed the par-3 15th McIlroy with a simple par extended his advantage to two shots.

Garcia was twice left with long-range birdies to close the gap, but he could only manage pars as McIlroy matched him to secure a double triumph.

Marc Leishman finished third and three shots behind McIlroy following a three-under 67. Justin Rose, Keegan Bradley, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel finished tied for fourth, while Graeme McDowell and Adam Scott were two of four players to finish on seven under.

Phil Mickelson carded the round of the day with an eight-under 62 to finish on five under for the tournament, with Lee Westwood finishing on four under following a seven-under 63.

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational final leaderboard

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