Irish Open: Rory McIlroy wins by three shots at K Club

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy clinched his first win at the Irish Open thanks to a closing 69
Irish Open final leaderboard
-12 R McIlroy (NI); -9 B Dredge (Wal), R Knox (Sco); -8 M Southgate (Eng); -6 M Kaymer (Ger), M Kieffer (Ger), T Hatton (Eng) -5 E Pepperell (Eng), R Cabrera Bello (Sp)
Selected others: -4 L Westwood (Eng), J Donaldson (Wal); -2 S Kjeldsen (Den); -1 D Willett (Eng), S Lowry (Ire), M Warren (Sco); +2 D Clarke (NI); +9 G McDowell (NI)

Rory McIlroy secured his first win of the season by producing a dramatic finale in the Irish Open, his home tournament, at the K Club.

McIlroy trailed Scotland's Russell Knox by one shot with three holes to play but outstanding second shots at the 16th and 18th helped him to the birdie and eagle which saw him win by three.

He shot a 69 to end on 12 under to clinch his first success in six months.

"To finish like I did is something I'll never forget," said McIlroy.

Knox shared second place with Welshman Bradley Dredge, who fired a 66.

McIlroy, 27, had missed the cut at the last three Irish Opens, but his win secured him the first prize of £515,000.

He plans to donate that money to his charity, the Rory Foundation, which hosted the event.

McIlroy's last victory came at the World Tour Championship in Dubai in November, a win that clinched him the Race to Dubai title.

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Rory McIlroy clinched his first win of the season at Kildare

"To win in front of my home fans and to look up and see my friends and family there is something very special for me," said McIlroy.

"I'm excited about the weeks ahead. Hopefully I can take this form into the summer."

The world number three led by three shots after the third round, which had to be completed on Sunday morning because of adverse weather on Saturday.

The start of the fourth round was then brought forward because of more fears about the weather, with players sent out in groups of three rather than two, starting at both the first and 10th holes.

Russell Knox
Russell Knox led with three holes remaining of his final round

Four-time major winner McIlroy started well with a birdie at the par-five fourth, but the Northern Irishman suffered a setback with a bogey at the sixth, before play was suspended at 13:00 BST because several greens were waterlogged due to heavy rain.

At that stage, McIlroy led Knox by one shot after eight holes of their final round, while Martin Kaymer set the clubhouse target thanks to a stunning round of 65, including an eagle at the last, which left him six under.

After play resumed at 14:15, McIlroy posted a birdie at the 10th, but fell back to nine under thanks to a bogey at the following hole.

Knox's birdie at the 14th brought him level with his playing partner at the head of the field and, after a further brief delay caused by hailstones, the Scot moved one shot clear with a birdie three at the 15th.

Dredge moved into contention by picking up a shot at the 17th to move to eight under, before McIlroy produced a sublime shot from 271 yards into the heart of the green at 16.

The former Open champion went on to birdie the hole, with Knox carding a bogey for a two-shot swing in McIlroy's favour.

After a par at the 17th, and with Dredge in the clubhouse on nine under, McIlroy released a superb five wood from the fairway on the 18th from 252 yards to within a few feet of the flag.

He holed for an eagle to extend his winning margin and secure a first Irish Open success.

A round of 68 gave England's Matthew Southgate his best-ever finish of fourth, but Masters champion Danny Willett shot a disappointing 77 to fall back to one under.

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