KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Rory McIlroy now has two eight-shot major victories, and yet they couldn’t have been more different.
The first at Congressional in the 2011 U.S. Open, he went out fast and never looked back.
The second at Kiawah in the 2012, he played a flawless final 22 holes under Sunday pressure and lapped the field.
How do they compare?
“This was better,” said announcer David Feherty, a fellow Northern Ireland native. “Congressional didn’t have the disaster potential on every single hole. Out here you hit one loose shot, you’re not talking about a one-shot swing or two-shot swing. You could lose three or four. He never gave anybody even the vaguest whiff on the breeze. No, he was locked up so tight.
“He made every single putt that mattered and when he missed a green, he missed it in the right place. It was perfect under the severest of pressure. He did what all great players can do. He played the best possible golf as if it had the least possible consequence. That’s what great players do. They make it seem like it doesn’t matter when it matters more than anything else to them.
“I think it’s the greatest round of golf I’ve seen and I’ve seen Tiger Woods play a lot of great rounds of golf but that was something special.”
So there you have it. Here’s a few other post-PGA judgments:
BIRDIE: Ian Poulter. The only guy to make any real charge at McIlroy on Sunday, twice getting within two shots. His tie for third makes it less likely he’ll need a captain’s pick for the European Ryder Cup team.
BOGEY: Tiger Woods. Once again failed to capitalize on the 36-hole lead and never really threatened on weekend. Is this is the new norm? Long winter looming.
BIRDIE: Vijay Singh. Some old flaws showed up on Sunday, but at nearly 50 the three-time major winner showed he still has some gas in the tank.
BOGEY: Lee Westwood. The top player without a major is disturbed enough by his flagging results that he sacked his longtime coach Pete Cowen to seek new answers.
BIRDIE: David Lynn. Longtime journeyman pro never played in the U.S. before. Shocking runner-up finish locked up a dream spot in the Masters Tournament.
BOGEY: Carl Pettersson. Through little fault of his own, he was levied a two-stroke penalty for a petty infraction. Cost him at least $481,500 if not a chance to win. “Sucks for me,” he said.
BIRDIE: Graeme McDowell. Second best Ulsterman went T12, T2, T5 and T11 in majors this year. I’d say he’s ready for Medinah.
BIRDIE: Phil Mickelson. Showed a little life after a difficult summer and secured the last automatic place on Davis Love III’s U.S. team.
BOGEY: Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Bo Van Pelt and Brandt Snedeker. All failed (some worse than others) to improve their Ryder Cup standing, leaving them all on bubble for potentially one spot. Play hard in playoffs, boys.
BIRDIE: Keegan Bradley. Anyone who thought he was a fluke winner a year ago can zip it after T4 right on heels of clutch victory in WGC secures RC spot.
BOGEY: Sergio Garcia. Missed cut dropped him from the top 10 in the Euro points list, potentially leaving him at mercy of captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
BIRDIE: Blake Adams. Swainsboro golfer missed qualifying for Masters by one stroke. But he’s two-for-two in contending in majors on the weekend and tied for seventh. No wonder the Georgia Southern Hall of Fame let him in already.
BOGEY: Club pros. Not a single one of the 20 qualifiers made the cut, and two of them shot in the 90s. Might be time to trim the excess and limit entries to 10.
PAR: Adam Scott. His name flashed on the leaderboard but mistakes again cost him contending at the end. Still, T11 is a respectable bounce back from British heartbreak.
BIRDIE: Trevor Immelman. Faded late, but it was good to see 2007 Masters champ back in the mix after long slump prompted by injuries.
BOGEY: Lucas Glover and Alvaro Quiros. Only players to miss the cut in all four majors this year.
BIRDIE: John Daly. Deserves credit for hanging in and finishing strong to tie for 18th – his highest major finish since 2005.
BOGEY: Luke Donald. Sunday 66 to climb from 64th to 32nd solidified his growing lightweight rep in majors and lost him his No. 1 ranking.
OTHER: Charley Hoffman. Opened with quad on Thursday and triple on Friday. Both holes alone were enough to miss the cut.
BIRDIE: Paspalum grass. Never seen more pristine seaside greens.
BOGEY: PGA of America/CBS. Stubbornly sticking to late start on Saturday put leaders off just before a storm and led to a mass exodus debacle. Use your heads, not your wallets.
BIRDIE: Ocean Course. Looked fantastic from the blimp, drew mostly positive reviews for fair setup and delivered a quality leaderboard and champion. Can’t ask for more.
TRIPLE: Traffic coordinator. Logistical nightmares were realized as remote location with one narrow route in proved torturous to get to and from for everyone. Look forward to going back when the hover cars are finally here.
BOGEY: Sandy areas. If it looks like a bunker and plays like a bunker, it should be considered a bunker. Peculiar local rule led to all sorts of weird infractions. There’s got to be a better way.
BIRDIE: Charleston. Still one of the most charming and flavorful cities in America.