CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy had one word to his play on the back nine Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“Boring,” the world’s top-ranked golfer said with a laugh.
That’s sort of what it has come to when McIlroy is playing it at the top of his game. Few in the world can challenge him when he’s driving the ball and putting the way he is right now.
On Sunday, he became the first two-time winner at the Wells Fargo Championship with an impressive seven-shot victory over Webb Simpson and Patrick Rodgers. It was his second win in the last three weeks.
McIlroy closed with a 3-under 69 to finish at 21-under 267, shattering the tournament record by five strokes. That came after he fired a course-record 61 on Saturday to take a commanding four-stroke lead.
McIlroy said it was “boring” on the back nine compared to his win here in 2010, when he carded 3s on the last six holes to finish 15 under.
He played the last half-dozen holes in 1-under on Sunday and the outcome was never in question. McIlroy had set himself up to win with his big round Saturday when he made a run at 59.
So McIlroy didn’t need to be outstanding because there was nobody was chasing him.
As he said, he just had to get to the finish line.
“It was a more controlled run,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I’m a more controlled player these days. I’ve learned how to finish things off.”
McIlroy also won Match Play Championship two weeks ago in San Francisco and has 11 PGA Tour titles. He has six top-10 finishes in his last eight PGA Tour starts.
Phil Mickelson called McIlroy’s performance this week “impressive.”
“Everything is firing on all cylinders for me,” McIlroy said.
Rodgers, playing on a sponsor exemption, was the only player to mount any type of a challenge, getting within three shots after a birdie at No. 15. But there was too much ground to make up, and he played the final two holes in 3-over and finished with a 68. Simpson shot a 72.
McIlroy almost didn’t play at Quail Hollow this week, but decided he needed to play more because he needed the FedEx Cup points after the Masters.
The win moved him into third place in the standings.
McIlroy got off to a shaky start with a three-putt bogey on No. 2 — his first in 167 holes — but quickly pulled it together. He didn’t have another bogey until the 17th hole, when he had built a seven-stroke lead and the outcome was already decided.
Simpson failed to capitalize on McIlroy’s early mistake, shooting 37 on the front nine that included a double bogey on the par-3 sixth when he three-putted from 8 feet. That dropped the Charlotte resident six shots back and he was never in contention again.
“He’s our best player right now and I wish more than anything I could have shot a couple under on the front to make it more exciting,” Simpson said. “Just didn’t have it today.”
McIlroy reached 20 under on No. 12 when he knocked his approach shot from 132 yards to 2 feet of the cup for a tap-in birdie and it looked as if he might coast the rest of the way.
But Rodgers, who earned his first top-25 finish on the PGA Tour, made it interesting when he played a seven-hole stretch in 6-under par, sparked by an eagle on the par-5 10th hole. But McIlroy didn’t flinch when Rodgers drained a 15-foot putt on No. 15 to pull within three shots of the lead.
Instead, McIlroy countered by rolling in a birdie putt on his own on No. 14, moving to 21 under and regaining a four-shot cushion.
McIlroy then put an exclamation point on the win by drilling his approach shot from 145 yards to 3 feet on No. 16 for his tournament-record 27th birdie.
“I had a goal to go out there and birdie the par 5s and the two drivable par 4s and I knew if I made six birdies there was pretty much no chance that anybody could catch me,” McIlroy said. “With my length and the way I’m driving it, it’s a big advantage around here and it showed this week.”
It also helped having a big lead.
“You can pick and choose where you want to be aggressive,” McIlroy said.
Mickelson finished in a three-way tie for fourth place at 12 under with Gary Woodland and Robert Streb. Geoff Ogilvy and Justin Thomas finished 11 under.