sport

McIlroy: Today wasn't easy

Rory McIlroy admitted Sunday at the Open was far from straightforward as he held off a spirited challenge from Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia to claim his third major title on a thrilling final day at Royal Liverpool.

he 25-year-old Northern Irishman took a six-shot lead over Rickie Fowler into the last round and eventualy held his nerve to card a closing 71 and win by two shots from Garcia and the American.

"It feels incredible," McIlroy told the BBC. "Today wasn't easy. There were a lot of guys making runs at me and I just needed to stay focused, keep in the present and concentrate on what I was doing out there.

"To be three legs towards the career grand slam at the age of 25 is a pretty good achievement. It's not going to sink in for a while."

Asked if he always felt in control, McIlroy added: "The lead never got less than two. I always felt I had that little bit of a cushion.

"I knew I had some holes where I could make birdie and 16 was the real hole for me which I think settled the championship."

There was some good-natured booing at the presentation ceremony when McIlroy thanked the fans for their support, even though he is a Manchester United fan.

The former world No 1 also praised the efforts of Fowler and Garcia, adding: "Well done for putting up such a fight. Rickie, no doubt with the way your major record is this year your time will come, and Sergio too....two of the best players in the world."

McIlroy also thanked his friends and family, adding: "This is the first major my mum (Rosie) has been to that I've won, so mum, this one's for you.

"I just can't wait to get back and defend this thing at St Andrews next year."