TORONTO (AP) — Rory McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday and gave the PGA Tour a strong response to the start of the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational, closing with an 8-under 62 to win a wild race to the finish with Justin Thomas and Tony Finau.
McIlroy had his first title defense on the PGA Tour, even if he had to wait for it. He won golf’s fourth-oldest national open in 2019 at Hamilton Golf & Country Club, only for the the COVID-19 pandemic to cancel the next two editions.
Thomas pushed him to the end at St. George’s Golf & Country Club, and the tournament effectively ended on the 17th hole. McIlroy and Thomas were tied and in the rough. McIlroy hit a wedge that rolled out to tap-in range, while Thomas missed a 10-foot par putt, a two-shot swing. Thomas closed with a pair of bogeys and still shot 64.
McIlroy finished at 19-under 261 for a two-stroke victory.
Finau holed a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 64 to finish second alone. Thomas was third at 14 under. Justin Rose matched the tournament- and course-record with a 60 — with three eagles and three bogeys — to tie for fourth with Sam Burns (65) at 14 under.
The Canadian crowd was enormous having been kept away since 2019, and thousands surrounded the 18th green as the threesome of McIlroy, Thomas and Finau finished.
McIlroy as been one of the strongest opponents of the LIV Golf series and spoke out against the money being paid to players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Greg Norman, who runs the LIV Golf, said in a story in the Washington Post that McIlroy had been “brainwashed” by the PGA Tour.
The victory was the second for McIlroy this season, adding to his victory in Las Vegas last October in the CJ Cup. He won for the 21st time on the PGA Tour.
“This is a day I’ll remember for a long, long time,“McIlroy said. “Twenty-one PGA Tour wins, one more than somebody else.”
It was a dig at Norman, who had 20 career tour wins.
Rose was 11 under with three holes to play. He bogeyed the 16th, hit to 2 feet on 17 for birdie, then went over the green on 18 and missed an 18-foot par putt. Carl Pettersson also shot 60 at St. George’s in his 2010 victory.
Corey Conners was the top Canadian, shooting a 62 to finish sixth at 12 under.