Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates after putting on the 18th green during the Final Round of the 94th PGA Championship. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (USA TODAY) - In a year when no lead seemed safe, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy built an insurmountable one Sunday and won the PGA Championship by a record eight strokes over England's David Lynn and by nine over four others.
It was the largest margin of victory in a PGA Championship, breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of winning by seven in 1980 at Oak Hill, the site of next year's PGA Championship. And at 23, McIlroy is the youngest PGA Championship winner in its stroke-play history.
McIlroy won his second major, following his eight-shot 2011 victory at the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. This time he vanquished the field, including Tiger Woods, shooting a 6-under 66 on Sunday, with no bogeys, to end the week at 13-under par, including birdie on the 72nd hole.
"I don't think I've let it sunk in yet. ... I'm speechless," McIlroy said at the trophy ceremony. "I played solid the whole way through the week. ... I thought my putting today was phenomenal.
"It's just been incredible, been an incredible week. I had a good feeling about it at the start. But I never imagined it to be this. To look at the names on that trophy and to put my name besides them is something very special. I'm just going to enjoy this."
The last to go bogey-free in the final round of a major victory was Phil Mickelson at the 2010 Masters.
In doing so, McIlroy ended the streak of 16 consecutive majors with different winners. He also became the first 54-hole leader to win a major this year, after the fades by Peter Hanson at the Masters, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open and Adam Scott at the British Open.
"He's very good. We all know the talent he has," Woods said. "He went through a little spell this year, and I think that was good for him. We all go through those spells in our careers. He's got all the talent in the world to do what he's doing. And this is the way that Rory can play. When he gets it going, it's pretty impressive to watch."
Woods, on the other hand, continued his streak of subpar play on the weekends of majors and remains without a win in a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, holding at 14 total.
"Today was different (with the end of the third round being played in the morning and all of the fourth). Yesterday, I think I came out with the wrong attitude, too relaxed, just coming out to enjoy it," said Woods, who was a co-leader to begin the weekend. "That's not the way I am. I'm pretty intense, and I wasn't that way, and it cost me.
"Overall, I'm very pleased with the way things are headed (in his game). ... It's just making little fine-tunements" as the rest of the year unfolds.
In the morning, while finishing the third round, Woods wasn't pleased with his drive on the par-4 15th hole. His club went sailing when he let go of it on the follow through, and the ball flew well to the right of the fairway, landing in a grassy, sandy area not too far from the beach.
He was able to recover, hitting a terrific shot to the green. He then came up limping for a few seconds before pulling what appeared to be some sort of prickly brush off the right leg of his pants. But he looked fine when he arrived at the green and two-putted for par.
Ian Poulter had applied some early pressure Sunday with a relentless start, making birdies on the first five holes and eight of the first 12, but he made bogeys on 13, 14 and 15 to take himself out of contention and topped it with a bogey on the final hole.
McIlroy remained steady after beginning the round with a three-shot lead after players were at the Ocean Course at 7:45 a.m. ET to conclude the weather-suspended third round. McIlroy wrapped up his third round with a 5-under 67.
With a number of players finishing the third round Sunday morning, the final round was played in threesomes off both tees, rare for a major championship. It was the first time since 2008 that the PGA Championship didn't complete three rounds on Saturday.
It hadn't been a great year for McIlroy. He hadn't finished higher than 40th in a major, but he became the first this weekend to open any significant distance on the field when he birdied the 15th and 16th holes toward the end of his third round. That was after he made five birdies on the front nine Saturday.
Poulter began brilliantly in the final round, and his putt from about 20 feet for a birdie on No. 4 moved him to 5 under. He birdied the next hole, as well, but McIlroy didn't make any big mistakes to help the players chasing him. He birdied three of the first seven holes and recovered from sand to make par on Nos. 9 and 10.