McIlroy targets more major success
7:00am Monday 21st July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Rory McIlroy celebrated his Open triumph by drinking red wine out of the Claret Jug, but was also quick to target more major success following his hard-fought win at Royal Liverpool.
McIlroy held off a determined challenge from Sergio Garcia to win by two shots from his Ryder Cup team-mate and American Rickie Fowler, becoming the first European to win three different majors in the modern era and the third to win three by the age of 25.
Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods were the other two and McIlroy believes he has the ambition to attempt to match their achievements, Nicklaus having won a record 18 major titles and Woods - a career-worst 69th here - 14.
"I definitely hope so," said McIlroy, whose win means his father Gerry and three friends won £50,000 each after backing him a decade ago at 500/1 to win by the age of 25.
"I've really found my passion again for golf. Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning. It's what I think about when I go to bed.
"I just want to be the best golfer that I can be and I know if I can do that, then trophies like this are within my capability.
"I'd love to win a lot more and am really looking forward to - even though there's still one major left this year that I want to desperately try and win - next April and trying to complete the career grand slam."
That was a reference to the Masters at Augusta, a tournament he famously led by four shots after 54 holes in 2011 only to collapse to a closing 80.
There was little danger of such a collapse on Sunday after McIlroy recovered from bogeys on the fifth and sixth with birdies on the ninth and 10th, but the 25-year-old had to work hard to stay in front of Garcia, who closed to within two of the lead four times.
"It's been an incredible week," McIlroy added. "I'm happy I gave myself enough of a cushion because there was a lot of guys coming at me, especially Sergio and Rickie.
"Just to be sitting here and looking at this thing and having my name on it, it's a great feeling. It obviously hasn't sunk in yet.
"I'm immensely proud of myself. To sit here 25 years of age and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to the career grand slam, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly."
Garcia was inches away from winning the Open at Carnoustie in 2007 before losing a play-off to Padraig Harrington and has now recorded 19 top-10s in 64 majors.
But the 34-year-old was keen to stress the positives of a closing 66 marred only by a bogey on the 15th when he needed two shots to escape a greenside bunker, with McIlroy looking on from the tee.
"Everybody looks at you as second and they want to make it a negative. Not at all," Garcia said. "I felt like I played well. I felt like I did almost everything I could and there was a better player. It's as simple as that.
"You don't have to look at other things. It's just that simple. All these weeks help in majors - even if you don't win, they still help."