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PGA Tour Confidential: McIlroy rolls to eight-shot win at PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy, Sunday, 2012 PGA Championship
Fred Vuich / SI
Rory McIlroy shot a bogey-free 66 in the final round to win by a PGA-record eight shots.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

RORY WINS IN RECORD FASHION
Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Basically duplicating his record romp at the 2011 U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship by eight shots and became the PGA's youngest champion in the modern era. McIlory shot 67-66 on the weekend and was bogey-free on Sunday in extremely difficult conditions. He had pretty much disappeared since winning the Honda back in March, to the point that some pushed the panic button, questioning his commitment. Given Rory's talent, we shouldn't be surprised that he has two majors at age 23, but who saw this coming? And what impressed you most about his play?

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, Golf.com: Those drives and those par putts.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: You could see it coming. He clearly lost his focus in the spring, and he's been working hard to get back on form since. The results have been getting steadily better leading into this week. Maybe you didn't see this type of beat-down coming, but you could see him getting back to playing like he had been.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: How uncatchable he looked with the lead. It was like watching Usain Bolt separate himself from the pack.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: He made it look so easy, again, which was reminiscent of Tiger in his prime. They said he napped between the morning and afternoon rounds. That's the sign of a confident player.

Reiterman: The perfect day - a nap and a major.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: This puts him in a different stratosphere. In this age of parity, Rory is now the clear-cut No. 1. Most impressive was how ruthlessly he extended his lead. No fear, no let-up.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: Gary Van Sickle said on Thursday morning that Kiawah's soft conditions, and the lack of wind at the time, played to Rory's strengths, but I wasn't as sure. I am surprised he has two majors now, but what most impressed me was that he went bogey-free Sunday on a course where so many big numbers lurk. He was as big as big-time gets.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, Golf.com: It looked like he was on his way back last week at the Bridgestone, but Mack-trucking the field by eight? Didn't see that coming. Most impressive was the way he just kept pouring it on late in the round. He made three birdies on the back nine and just played his game right to the finish.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I saw it coming. Or I guessed right. Stehpanie did as well. Soft fairways and straight putts and something to prove.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: He ran the table on the greens. Sure, they're a little slower than usual, like those softies at Congressional, but if he's really this good of a putter, he's got a dominant era inside him.

John Garrity, contributing writer, Sports Illustrated: I was impressed that Poulter's early charge didn't rattle him a bit. He was Mr. Cool.

Dusek: I agree John. In fact, I think it helped Rory avoid being too passive or complacent with the lead. Poulter pushed Rory just enough to make him keep hitting good shots.

Stephanie Wei, contributor, SI Golf+: I'm not that surprised after his finish last week in Akron, where it finally started to come together for him. I was most impressed with his putting. He made a lot of par-saving six- and eight-footers, and a few for birdies, and he got up-and-down from everywhere on the back nine.

Godich: I found it interesting that Rory said he had a target score of 12 under. That's showing a ton of confidence.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: What most impressed you about Rory's win?

RORY'S FINAL MAJOR TALLY
Godich: After Rory won at Congressional, Padraig Harrington predicted that Jack's major record wasn't safe. When Rory went AWOL, some wondered when he'd win another. Now he joins Jack, Seve and Tiger as the only multiple major winners under the age of 25. Harrington was talking again on Sunday about how Jack's record of 18 is in reach. Is it time to take Padraig seriously? Look into your crystal ball and predict where McIlroy will finish. Alongside Mickelson's four majors? Hogan's nine? Tiger's 14? Jack's 18?

Gorant: It's tempting to say he'll finish in the Hogan ballpark, because he's a great talent, but he doesn't seem to have that burning driver that Tiger did/does. But maybe that take-it-as-it-comes attitude is an asset and he gets there by not trying so hard.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: Hard, if not impossible, to predict. I want to see him win one the hard way, which he'll have to do multiple times to challenge Tiger and Jack. Everyone pooh-poohs Bob May, but Tiger had to make some miracle shots to knock him off. I want to see if Rory can beat Bob May.

Hanger: Of course it's possible he'll catch Jack, but it's also wildly premature to talk about. After Tiger and Jack, it's Hagen with 11, Player and Hogan with 9, and Tom Watson with 8. To get to 10 would make him one of the greatest of all time. We shouldn't really be thinking about 19 at this early date.

Shipnuck: There's so many what-ifs, with health and life. But one thing we don't have to worry about is Rory blowing up that gorgeous swing. If he stays healthy, I say double digits for sure. Maybe even 19.

Dusek: It's a totally unfair question to ask, but that doesn't mean it isn't tempting and fun all the same. I could see Rory floating to Hogan- and Tiger-like numbers, but I can't predict a Nicklaus-level total until I see a multi-major season.

Bamberger: I love Paddy. He is a quote machine. But to talk about Rory and Jack or Tiger in the same breath, in terms of career achievements, is absurd.

Wei: I second that. I loved Rory's reaction to Paddy's comments after the U.S. Open win. He shook his head and covered his face with his hand: "Oh, Paddy, Paddy..."

Garrity: If I were a betting man, I'd say single digits for majors, no more. Who do we think Rory is, the next Nicklaus?

Reiterman: If Tiger doesn't break Jack's record, no one will. Rory won't even come close. If he finished with seven, one better than Faldo, that'd be a phenomenal career.

Van Sickle: Rory is remarkable. We thought young Ernie Els was pretty remarkable, too, and here he is with four majors. Could've been more, but Tiger and Phil happened to him. Seven is a good number to shoot at.

Walker: I think best way to think about Rory McIlroy and golf history is that Nicklaus is Bill Russell, Tiger is Michael Jordan and McIlroy is LeBron James. Long way to go, but he's off to a great start.

Ritter: Ridiculous to try to predict, but fun all the same. Sign me up for eight, which would still place him among the all-time greats.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Pick a number: How many majors will Rory have at the end of his career?

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