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Rory McIlroy captures Irish Open for first win of 2016

By The Sports Xchange
Rory McIlroy captures Irish Open for first win of 2016
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Rory McIlroy made an eagle on the final hole to clinch his first victory of the season at the Irish Open on Sunday before his home fans.

Playing his final three holes in 3-under, McIlroy rallied to capture the Irish Open for the first time in his career.

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McIlroy fired a final-round 69 for a 12-under total and three-stroke victory over Scotland's Russell Knox and Bradley Dredge of Wales.

"I need to do something, I needed to get something going and step up there and try to make as committed a swing as I possibly could and it worked out for me," said McIlroy, the tournament host.

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"To win in front of my home fans and to look up and see my friends and family there is something very special for me. ... I started to choke up a little bit walking off the green."

McIlroy had seen his three-shot lead turn into a one-shot deficit with three holes to play as Knox carded four birdies and an eagle in a final round interrupted twice by hailstorms and torrential rain.

McIlroy, ranked No. 3 in the world, used his driving power to birdie the first three par-5 holes, including the 16th. His 252-yard second shot on the 18th landed within three feet of the pin as the home fans roared their approval.

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"To finish like I did is something I'll never forget and I'm excited about the weeks ahead," McIlroy said. "Hopefully I can take this form into the summer."

McIlroy had not made the Irish Open cut since 2011. His previous best finish was seventh in 2008.

McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, played 15 holes in 2-under-par on Saturday and held a three-stroke lead over Masters champion Danny Willett of England when darkness halted play at the K Club in Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland.

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Willett shot a final-round 77 to finish in a tie for 23rd place and 11 shots back.

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