After just five of the 16 top seeds advanced out of pool play, in the end it was the world No. 1 who took home the hardware at TPC Harding Park.
On Sunday, a day before his 26th birthday, Rory McIlroy captured his second World Golf Championship with a 4-and-2 victory over upset-minded Gary Woodland. It was the first time since Tiger Woods in 2008 that the No. 1 seed won golf’s most unpredictable tournament.
“I’m really proud of myself with how I showed a lot of character early on with coming back from deficits,” McIlroy said. “I played really solid golf. My second WGC and first win in the States this year. I couldn’t be happier.”
McIlroy was 2 down with two holes to play and risked being eliminated Friday when he rallied against Billy Horschel to win in 20 holes. In a quarterfinal match that spilled into Sunday morning, he was 1 down to Paul Casey on the 17th hole and wound up beating him in 22 holes.
In the consolation match, Danny Willett defeated Jim Furyk on the 16th hole and picked up $646,000, which will go a long way toward PGA Tour membership if he wants it.
McIlroy won for the second time this year and the 16th time worldwide. It was his 10th PGA Tour victory, joining Woods (24) and Jack Nicklaus (12) as the only players with at least 10 victories at age 25 or younger.
The Match Play Championship featured a new format this year to keep more top players in the field for at least three days. McIlroy was 3-0 in the round-robin format, and wound up winning all seven matches to pick up the $1.57 million prize.
Woodland earned $930,000 for finishing second.