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What a way to head into next week's U.S. Open. 

By Daniel Rapaport
June 09, 2019

Just when we thought Rory McIlroy might have cooled off a bit from his torrid early-year form, he does this. 

McIlroy put forth a tour de force performance on Sunday, shooting a nine-under 61 to win the RBC Canadian Open by seven shots. It's his second victory of the year—he won the Players Championship in March—and quite the statement ahead of the U.S. Open, which begins Thursday at Pebble Beach. 

"It give me so much confidence," McIlroy told CBS after the round. "Obviously this is a huge tournament to win and I'm very proud of myself. But going forward for this season, to play the way I did in a final round like this, I'm going to take a lot from this. I'm excited for next week."

McIlroy started the day at Hamilton Golf and Country Club in a three-way tie for the lead with Brandt Snedker and Matt Kuchar, and he made his intentions known from the very first hole. He pumped a drive 353 yards down the center of the fairway, then flipped a wedge that might have gone in had the flagstick been pulled. 

He added birdies on three of the next four holes to seize firm control of the tournament.

McIlroy added one more front-nine birdie to make the turn in five-under 30. By that point, the question wasn't whether McIlroy would win his 16th PGA Tour event; it was by how many. 

He caught fire again on the back nine, ripping off four straight birdies from 11-14 to put himself on 59 watch. 

That magical number seemed to be out of reach after McIlroy made his first bogey of the day at 16, but he responded with a three-perfect-shot eagle on the par-5 17th to get to nine under on the day. That meant he needed a birdie on the difficult 18th to shoot just the 10th 59 in PGA Tour history.

McIlroy found the fairway on 18 but fanned an iron into the right bunker, then couldn't hole the bunker shot. He missed the ensuing par putt to "settle" for 61 and a seven-shot win. 

The victory comes after a missed cut last week at the Memorial, and it marks the first time he's won from the final group in his last nine tries. It's also the sixth national open he has won, joining the U.S. Open, British Open, Hong Kong Open, Australian Open and Irish Open.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the victory is how well McIlroy putted on Hamilton's poa annua greens, the same surface he'll find next week at Pebble. He finished sixth in strokes gained putting for the week, picking up nearly six strokes on the field with the flatstick. Coming into this week, he ranked 59th in that statistic for the season. 

McIlroy will play alongside Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm at Pebble Beach, where he missed the cut at the U.S. Open as a 21-year-old in 2010. The threesome will tee off the 10th tee at 10:51 a.m. EST on Thursday morning. 

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