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PGA champion McIlroy revels in defying doubters

updated 7:43 AM EDT, Mon August 13, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy wins PGA Championship by a record eight-shot margin
  • The 23-year-old is a two-time major winner following his victory at the 2011 U.S. Open
  • McIlroy replaces fellow Briton Luke Donald at the top of the world rankings
  • McIlroy finished no higher than 40th at the year's first three major tournaments

(CNN) -- Newly-crowned PGA Championship winner and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy took a swipe at his critics after a record-breaking triumph at the golf season's final major at Kiawah Island.

The Northern Irishman carded a six-under-par final round of 66 to finish 13 under for the tournament and eight strokes clear of his nearest challenger David Lynn, bettering the margin of victory Jack Nicklaus recorded at the event in 1980.

McIlroy, who finished tied for 60th at last month's British Open after missing the cut at the U.S. Open and languishing down in level 40th at the Masters, has seen his profile rise since he started dating tennis star Caroline Wozniacki last year.

It was his first win since March's Honda Classic and his see-saw form prior to victory in South Carolina had raised question marks over his focus.

McIlroy wins the PGA Championship
Winning majors with Nicklaus, McIlroy

"It's nice to be able to prove a few people wrong with a win like this," McIlroy told CNN after the the seventh win of his professional career.

"This year is the first year I've had to handle the level of scrutiny my game and my life has come under. I know a lot of people were panicking that I wasn't playing so well.

"Everyone has dips in form and that was one of mine. I knew my game wasn't so far away."

It was McIlroy's second major success following an equally emphatic victory at the 2011 U.S. Open, meaning the 23-year-old now has more wins in golf's four marquee tournaments than 14-time major champion Tigers Woods did at the same age.

"It's been an incredible day," said McIlory, who followed Woods' tradition of wearing a red shirt on the final day of a competition.

"Having a chance going into Sunday at a major then playing the way I did the whole way through the round, not making a bogey, and winning by such a clear margin, it doesn't get any better than this.

"The first major is always going to be special; you're only going to do it once. But here is validation, its relief. A lot of people have won one major, not a lot of people have won multiple.

"To be able to put my name alongside some of the greats that have done that is a nice feeling."

McIlroy's fellow Briton Lynn was the surprise package of the tournament, finishing on five under to clinch second place in only his second appearance at a major.

The 38-year-old has won one event in 370 on the European Tour, but final-round birdies at the 16th and 17th holes meant he walked away with a check for $870,000.

Britons dominated the top of the leaderboard, with Justin Rose and Ian Poulter finishing tied for third on four under alongside 2011 champion Keegan Bradley.

Woods, looking for a first major win since the 2008 U.S. Open, slipped down the pecking order after a level-par final round. The 36-year-old ended the weekend in a seven-way tie for 11th.

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