Rory McIlroy edges Jim Furyk to win The Players

PGA THE PLAYERS Championship- Final Round

"He's been on the bag for just under two years".

Coming off a careless bogey on the 14th, McIlroy thought he was in trouble when his tee shot went well to the right toward a clump of native grass.

- The island green that never looks smaller than it does on Sunday at the Players Championship proved to be no problem for Rory McIlroy.

Diamond, a lifelong friend of the new world number four, has been on the bag for the previous year and a half but with McIlroy, until this week, having won just a single PGA Tour event in that time, he had come under criticism from some fans. But it also validated the upbeat and optimistic demeanor he showcased over the past few weeks, preaching continued patience in the face of Sunday fades and near-misses that had begun to blur together.

"I felt more and more confident each time".

According to OddsShark, McIlroy and Dustin Johnson are co-favorites to win the Masters at +1000.

There were plenty of doubters as Rory McIlroy failed to win event after event.

He has come a long way since and his Players success is the biggest win outside his four major triumphs.

McIlroy's superb finished edged him clear of Furyk who had finished 40 minutes earlier with a birdie at the 72nd hole to take the outright lead at that point. "I knew the (leading) guys weren't going to get away from us". But this is his biggest victory since leaving Hoylake with the claret jug almost five years ago, and it's one that has roots in a total transformation for McIlroy as he approaches his 30 birthday.

"I don't play golf to answer. Very proud & happy for him!"

Course: TPC Sawgrass (Players Stadium Course). I didn't feel I needed a win going into Augusta. "Maybe if I hadn't have had those experiences, I wouldn't be sitting up here with this trophy, so I'm thankful and grateful for those experiences I've had this year.

I mean, that's unacceptable", McIlroy said.

Not since 2012 has McIlroy started a year so well. This victory will inevitably stoke anticipation for his next attempt to complete the career Grand Slam at April's Masters at Augusta. It will take him to even greater heights!

"Augusta National can punish if you play too aggressively", Valiante said. "And I had to grind it out down the stretch, as well, which I'll take a lot from". "It was going to happen". "I drove the ball well this week", added Woods, whose next outing will come at the WGC?Dell Technologies Match Play from March 27-31 at Austin, Texas.

McIlroy joins Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in reaching 15 wins and four majors before turning 30 years of age.

No matter. He was in the lead, facing a Sunday (Monday NZT) pairing with Fleetwood as he goes for the most important win of his young career. The event is often referred to as the "fifth unofficial major" but the tournament's prize money is now greater than all four majors, per Golf Digest.

His victory moved him to 4th in the world ranking and a return to the top spot may come sooner, rather than later.

"It's not lack of maturity as a human being, it's the way he plays the game", Valiante said. "I feel like I've managed the first six weeks or six tournaments of the year very well, even with some noise around me, whether it is, "He can't close, he can't plays on Sundays" blah, blah, blah".

"I really want to enjoy this".

Wearing a green shirt underneath an outer layer that protected him from temperatures in the 50s, gusting winds and intermittent rains, McIlroy was in St. Patrick's Day spirit himself.

That is, as long as he opts for a one-story rental house during Masters week. I think it's been having a focus over the last six or seven months on my attitude, especially my attitude to golf, and not letting golf define who I am as a person; trying to keep the two things very separate.

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