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Rory McIlroy tosses his ball into the crowd after winning a third Wells Fargo Championship
Rory McIlroy tosses his ball into the crowd after winning a third Wells Fargo Championship

LiveScore’s resident golf expert Matthew Hill tees up your weekly serving of golf news.

Return of the Mac

After a 554-day spell without a win, Rory McIlroy closed out a third Wells Fargo Championship of his career on Sunday at his happy hunting ground of Quail Hollow. 

McIlroy, 32, triumphed in both 2010 and 2015 at the North Carolina course with ruthless driving and ball-striking displays — but it was an impressive putting performance that proved the catalyst to his latest, long overdue success. 

The Northern Irishman has suffered with well-documented swing struggles in recent months, which had even prompted the addition of Pete Cowan to his coaching set-up back in March. 

Speaking after a dramatic bogey on the last hole — enough to leave him a shot clear of fast-finishing Mexican Abraham Ancer — a clearly emotional McIlroy opened up about his long wait for a trophy. 

He said: "It's never easy to win out here. It's felt like a long time since that victory in China back in 2019. 

“The world was a completely different place than it is today and life has changed a lot for me being a dad. 

"Winning on Mother's Day, I'm thinking of [my wife] Erica and thinking of my mum back home. 

"This is one of my favourite places in the world and to break the drought and to win here again, that's awesome. 

"When we came back from the pandemic, I thought I'd enjoy the peace and quiet a little bit, but I soon realised that to bring the best out of myself I needed this [the crowd]. 

"I feed off the energy so much. Maybe here more so than anywhere else, just because it's the first place I've won three times. The crowd really carried me through."

Diamond in the rough

Rory McIlroy reserved special praise for his caddie Harry Diamond (left) after a challening closing hole
Rory McIlroy reserved special praise for his caddie Harry Diamond (left) after a challening closing hole

Seemingly cruising to victory after long-time challenger Keith Mitchell bogeyed the 17th, McIlroy headed to the final tee knowing anything better than a double bogey would see him crowned champion. 

However, any thoughts of a low-key finish were soon eradicated when the four-time Major winner bludgeoned his drive wildly left on the last, only narrowly averting a creek and finding a grim lie in the rough. 

Faced with a daunting dilemma, McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond masterfully talked his man into taking a penalty drop and playing from a more favourable lie — a decision spectacularly vindicated when the Northern Irishman found the green and two-putted from 45 feet for victory. 

McIlroy added: "I was ready to get in there and try to play that with a lob wedge.

"But then Harry said, 'Let's take a step back, let's think about this'. He calmed me down and slowed me down a little bit — and ultimately we made the right decision.”

Had Diamond not intervened, McIlroy may have been forced into a playoff with the red-hot Ancer, who had made a mockery of the course’s tough closing stretch to card an excellent 66. 

As it was, he had to settle for second, while big-hitting Norwegian Viktor Hovland and improving American Mitchell shared third a further shot back. 

Here Higgo again

Young South African Garrick Higgo's stock continues to rise rapidly after another dominant European Tour win
Young South African Garrick Higgo's stock continues to rise rapidly after another dominant European Tour win

Across the pond, the European Tour’s Canary Islands swing had a fitting conclusion as Garrick Higgo stormed his way to a six-shot success — a second title in three weeks for the 21-year-old South African sensation. 

After landing his second tour victory a fortnight earlier at Meloneras Golf, Higgo was again far too good for his opposition and even rounded things off with a final-day ace. 

Leading by two overnight, the youngster wasted little time in extending his lead on Sunday via three early birdies before a glorious hole-in-one at the seventh made closing things out a rather comfortable job. 

Set to tee up in Kiawah Island for the US PGA Championship in a couple of weeks, it looks certain to be a glimpse into the future for golf fans when Higgo lines up against the game’s biggest stars. 

Speaking after his latest win, he said: “It's unreal, I played so well. 

“I hit the ball very nicely, so it was a lot less stressful than the last time because I was hitting it a lot better here. 

“I can't believe it happened so quickly again but then my game has been good, so I can believe it in that respect. 

"I've been working really hard, a lot of little things, and I've also accepted what works for me and stuck with that. I think that's been a big thing. 

“I think I can go as high as I want to. The way I'm playing I can do a lot of good things." 

Australia’s Maverick Antcliff was a distant second to Higgo, while last week’s winner Dean Burmester and popular Englishman Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnson both secured top-five finishes. 

The week ahead

Dustin Johnson will continue his quest to rediscover his best form at this week's AT+T Byron Nelson
Dustin Johnson will continue his quest to rediscover his best form at this week's AT+T Byron Nelson

After Hideki Matsuyama's memorable Augusta triumph in March, eyes are now starting to turn towards the year's second Major, the USPGA Championship.

Those looking to fine-tune their games ahead of Kiawah Island in 10 days' time only have this week's upcoming tournaments left to do so, meaning strong fields are expected on both sides of the Atlantic.

The PGA Tour action comes from the AT+T Byron Nelson, which will be played at TPC Craig Ranch in Texas for the first time. 

Meanwhile, the European Tour is back on UK soil for the British Masters from the Belfry with the likes of Bob MacIntyre, Danny Willett and Andy Sullivan set to feature. 

We will have all the news from both events — plus the latest ahead of the US PGA — in next week’s On The Tee.

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