GULLANE, Scotland — Rory McIlroy birdied the final two holes in the wind on Sunday for a 2-under 68 to win the Genesis Scottish Open, his first victory on Scottish soil, and bring plenty of confidence to last major of the year.
McIlroy was one shot behind Robert MacIntyre when he played the slope to near-perfect on the par-3 17th for a 4-foot birdie putt to tie for the lead. He then delivered what McIlroy called his best shot of the year — a 2-iron into the air to 10 feet for the final birdie.
It’s a heartbreaker for MacIntyre, who is trying to win his national open, and he’s given a shot of his own. MacIntyre hammered a 3-wood from the rough on the 18th hole at The Renaissance Club to 4 feet, pumping both fists as he dropped to 64.
It was a remarkable closing round as the wind blew hard and relentlessly off the Firth of Forth, and it looked the longest it could give MacIntyre, 26, the signature win of his young career.
However, McIlroy, who played a solid back nine of 31 and capped it off with two clutch birdies for his first victory since the Dubai Desert Classic.
The victory came at an ideal time. McIlroy heads south to Royal Liverpool for the Open Championship, where he tries to end his nine-year majors drought. McIlroy won the claret jug the last time The Open was played at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
“It was a tough day – very tough,” McIlroy said. “To play that back nine at 4-under par to win the tournament, I’m really proud of how I hung in there. I hit some amazing shots down the stretch. It felt unbelievable. It’s been a long six month, I feel, since I won in Dubai. I gave myself a lot of chances, and hopefully this win will break the seal for me, especially next week.”
McIlroy finished at 15-under 265 and moved past Jon Rahm at No. 2 in the world.
Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world, closed with 70 and tied for third with Byeong Hun An (70) and David Lingmerth (68). Scheffler has finished in the top five in his past seven tournaments, two of them majors.
An and Lingmerth received a consolation prize by earning spots in The Open, which is awarded to the top three unseeded players. The last place goes to Nicolai Hojgaard (67), who will join the Rasmus twins at Royal Liverpool.
The Scottish crowd has been chanting MacIntyre’s name all week around The Renaissance Club, and they roared when he delivered a 3-wood and birdie putt on the 18th, one of the toughest finishes. holes on the tour.
MacIntyre was so caught up in the moment that he had to fight back tears leaving the green.
“I’ll never forget it. I had to take a minute out of 18,” he said. “If not The Open, the Scottish Open is up there with the event I want to play for the rest of my life. It’s one of my dreams to win since I’ve been watching at home, and I think now comes the chance to I’ll birdie. 18, I think, it might be the one, but it’s not today.
“Rory McIlroy is arguably the best in the world, and he showed why today.”
McIlroy matched him with a shot that was just as good.
He was 201 yards from the pin, dead in the wind, a perfect 3-putt for him – except that McIlroy decided to replace his 3-putt with a 2-putt for the windy weekend.
“The 4-iron just got me to the front,” McIlroy said. He had to hit a 2-iron with a little bit of damage and a little bit of height to get the wind to go some distance, and “it came out absolutely perfect.”
“It’s probably the best shot I’ve hit all year,” McIlroy said. “When you hit a shot like that, I feel like I deserve to hole the putt to finish it like that.”
The tournament is co-sanctioned by the European tour and the PGA Tour. McIlroy extended his lead at the top of the Race to Dubai, though he still has work to do to catch up with Rahm and Scheffler in the FedEx Cup.