Best of 2012: McIlroy takes the tour by storm

Pat Lovgren,
12/24/2012 9:48:47 AM
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As 2012 winds to a close, looks back at the stories that made the year memorable.'s Pat Lovgren looks at Rory McIlroy's dominant finish and how the Northern Irishman is playing one level above the rest of the field.

Leading up to the year's final major, Rory McIlroy looked like anything but the world's premier golfer.

But following a dominant eight-shot win at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, the 23-year-old prodigy strung together two more victories, beating a pair of stacked fields and then capped the year off with a dramatic victory playing with his European teammates at the Ryder Cup.

Playing in wind-swept conditions at the PGA, McIlroy recaptured the form that previously surfaced in his runaway win at the 2011 US Open.

His bogey-free closing round of 66 was a near perfect performance that surpassed the previous margin of victory, set by Jack Nicklaus in 1980.

McIlroy's year would only get better thanks to his play in what will go down as one of the most dramatic Ryder Cups in history.

He overcame some early struggles, and along with his partner Ian Poulter was able to turn the momentum around by claiming the last fourball match on Saturday.

He followed that up with a win in his Sunday singles -- despite memorably arriving via police escort just 10 minutes prior to his tee time after confusion over US time zones -- as Europe came all the way back, winning eight of the 11 Sunday matches to claim the Cup.

McIlroy's success was not reserved only for the PGA Tour, as he also claimed the money title on the European Tour, making him truly an international champion.

His dominance in 2012 brought back memories of when Tiger Woods was accumulating majors at a record pace, playing at a level that was a notch above the rest of the competition.

Rory McIlroy (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)


(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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