The 2014 British Open championship leaderboard looked a little misleading after July 20. While Rory McIlroy topped it as always, the Open championship looked closer on the final leaderboard than it really was. Despite Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler's best efforts, they never truly posed a serious threat to the wire-to-wire champion in the final round, despite closing within two shots at the very end.
McIlroy finally cooled off a bit in the last 18 holes with a 71, although another 66 or 68 wasn't needed. Garcia saw signs of hope when McIlroy bogeyed the fifth and sixth holes, all while Garcia shot -3 through the first six holes. Yet when McIlroy birdied the ninth and 10'th, even Garcia's eagle at 10 left him three shots back.
Fowler hung around for much of the day, but Garcia looked like the only one who could catch McIlroy for much of the round. Either the Open championship would make history with Mcllroy getting a rare wire-to-wire victory, or Garcia would finally break through for a first major after years of underachieving. Yet thanks to McIlroy's hot streaks in the first three rounds, he didn't need another one in the last.
Despite a bogey at 13, a birdie at 16 balanced it out for the future champion, while Garcia didn't get the run of birdies and eagles he needed. While Garcia's birdies at 16 and 18 made it so McIlroy got a mere two shot win over him and Fowler, it never really looked that close. Once McIlroy pulled away from Fowler in the final five holes of the third round on July 19, the Open championship was practically decided then and there.
It was the closest major leaderboard McIlroy ever topped, after his eight shot victories at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship. At various points, it looked like he would match or top those blowouts, but Garcia and Fowler made this win a little more challenging, if not enough.
The only things McIlroy hasn't done yet in his career is win the Masters, or win a truly down to the wire major in the final holes. But after dominating the Open championship from start to finish, the former achievement looks more like a matter of time than ever.