Tiger charges, but McIlroy was true No. 1 at Honda
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Honda Classic on Sunday.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The hunted has now become the hunter.
It used to be that Tiger Woods raced to the lead and forced everyone else to try to catch him. Now it's Rory McIlroy who has taken that role and with it the throne that Woods used to rule from, figuratively and literally.
"He's the best player I've ever seen tee-to-green, period," said Graeme McDowell of his fellow Northern Irishman. "I didn't have a chance to play with Tiger in the early to mid 2000s when Tiger was the man, but Rory McIlroy is the best."
It showed on Sunday.
Protecting a two-shot lead at the start of the day, McIlroy never lost his spot atop the leaderboard at The Honda Classic, where his victory moved him to fourth in the FedExCup standings and first in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Not when the wind started whipping through PGA National. And not when Woods put on the kind of charge that used to make his opponents suddenly turn to mush.
The difference of course was that Woods was the one doing the chasing this time. The greatest front-runner of all time had never shot a 62 in any final round of his career and never needed to.
Even when Woods did, though, it didn't matter. Not even a roar-inducing eagle on the final hole could shake Rors. McIlroy heard the noise from five holes away and made some of his own with a birdie putt from just over 8 feet.
"It was nice to have that two-shot cushion going into the last five holes after holing that birdie putt," said McIlroy, who carded a 1-under 69 in the final round.
A couple of years ago, it might have gone differently for McIlroy.