The golf world delivered its best of the year this weekend. Here's the weekly roundup of everything you missed.
Rory McIlroy's come-from-behind victory at the BMW PGA Championship on the heels of his breakup with fiancee Caroline Wozniacki boosted the two-time major champion to No. 6 in the world golf rankings.
While McIlroy returned inside the top 10 for the first time since he fell out of it last month, his idle Nike stablemate Tiger Woods slipped a rung to third place. Colonial winner Adam Scott rebounded from a near missed-cut to a playoff win over Jason Dufner to secure his top rankings spot, and Henrik Stenson moved up to No. 2 after a T7 finish at Wentworth.
McIlroy’s one-shot victory over Shane Lowry after starting Sunday’s finale seven shots back of 54-hole leader Thomas Bjorn ended a turbulent week on a high note, after the ex-No. 1 announced he had called off his wedding to tennis’ formerly top-ranked female player. An unidentified "source" told the New York Post that the relationship was a "distraction" to McIlroy’s career, echoing a warning that NBC broadcaster Johnny Miller gave almost a year ago and golf legend Gary Player repeated when he warned the two-time major champ to find the "right wife."
Whether that had anything to do with McIlroy’s decision, one of his peers believes the Ulsterman’s choice to break off his engagement was not a case of last-minute cold feet.
"My guess is that it wasn't a decision to break up with Caroline which just came out of the blue," Luke Donald, who finished tied for third at Wentworth, two shots back, told Tony Jimenez. "I'm sure it has been weighing on his mind for a while and maybe just getting it out released something.
"The raw emotions were still there this week but being out on the golf course, a place he's familiar with, maybe he could forget those a little bit."
Whatever the reason, McIlroy, who earlier in the week unplugged from social media and other computerized interferences, enjoyed the chance to leave his personal woes off the course.
"I guess when I got inside the ropes this week, it was a little bit of a release," he told reporters after his final-round 6-under 66 gave him a 14-under for the week. "I was on my own and doing what I do best, which is playing golf, and that sort of gave me four or five hours of serenity or sanctuary or whatever you want to call it; just focusing on the job at hand which was to play golf and get the ball in the hole in the lowest number of shots possible.
"Yeah, I can't explain it," he added. "It's obviously been a week of very mixed emotions, but I'm sitting here looking at this trophy going, how the hell ‑‑ how did it happen this week, but it did. A great way to end the week obviously."
Scott secures No. 1 ranking
While McIlroy was proving his mettle at Wentworth ahead of the U.S. Open in two weeks, Scott was engineering his own confidence-building comeback in Texas -- from sitting right on the cut line on Friday to a dramatic sudden-death win over the reigning PGA champion on the third playoff hole.
"Sometimes when you do hit the good shots playing on the cut line, because you're a little edgy about what's going to happen over those holes, you can take some confidence -- maybe as much as hitting a nice wedge into the last on a playoff hole, because again you're in that situation, do or die, you go home if you don't get good shots on Friday," Scott said after dispatching Dufner on Sunday. "That might have given me a little confidence going into the weekend to free it up and try and play some good golf around here."
"It's a good feeling, and maybe some validation you could say, but winning any golf tournament is very difficult out here. They don't come easy and I had a chance earlier this year and I let it slip," he said. "I didn't want to let this one slip so I played hard and I was really happy with where my game was at ... to come out on top is a really satisfying feeling, and hopefully keep No.1 for at least another week."
Dufner, for his part, may have had his own distractions last week, bot just from Scott's play but the dapper figure cut by his opponent, as well.
"It's tough to beat him. He's a great player," said the stone-faced, three-time PGA Tour winner, no doubt cracking wise. "It's tough to concentrate, he's so good looking, too."
Scott and McIlroy will roll into this week’s Memorial Tournament as almost co-favorites to win at Jack’s Place. Bovada gives McIlroy an 8/1 edge, while the 2013 Masters winner will enter the event at 10/1 odds.
Mickelson foresees two U.S. Open wins
Then there’s Phil Mickelson, who’s 28/1 to win this week at Muirfield Village. Last seen missing the cut at The Players Championship earlier this month -- and with two additional MCs and a WD on his 2014 dance card -- Lefty recently hosted his biggest fan, Rick Reilly, who gushed that the five-time major winner without a U.S. Open victory prognosticated not one, but two national championship wins for himself.
More interesting than Phil’s eternal optimism, though, was his comparison of himself to Tiger and a bunch of other big hitters on tour.
"My body isn't beat up like a lot of guys," Mickelson told the retiring ESPN.com columnist and resident Eldrick-hater. "My swing isn't like Tiger's, or Jason Day's, Dustin Johnson's, even Hunter Mahan's. I don't have a really fast golf swing that has a lot of viciousness, a lot of fierceness, where the torque and power that's released is hard on the knees, the back. My swing is big and long and has a wide, wide arc. That doesn't put any pressure on my body ... I'm like a kicker in the NFL. I'm not beat up. I can keep playing at a high level for a long time."
Wie cracks top 10 for first time in three years
Jessica Korda’s second win of the season at last week’s Airbus LPGA Classic bounced her up 10 spots in the world rankings, while T3 finisher Michelle Wie returned inside the top 10 for the first time since June 2011.
It has been a long road back for Wie, who was No. 100 a year ago and is now the third best American player in the world -- behind Stacy Lewis (No. 2) and Lexi Thompson, who moved up a slot to fifth place after a T7 finish in Alabama. Wie notched her seventh top 10 finish in 10 starts in 2014.
The winner began Sunday’s finale three strokes behind 54-hole leader Anna Nordqvist. Korda finally broke loose of a six-way tie at the top with birdie putts on the 14th and 15th holes. Birdies on No. 16 and 18 sealed the deal for the 21-year-old from Bradenton, who has been working with 1993 PGA champion and fellow Floridian, Paul Azinger, on her short game.
"Charley [Hull] was birdieing, Michelle was birdieing, the group behind us was birdieing," Korda said after a final-round 7-under 65 put her at 20-under for the week. "So you've got to keep making birdies."
Monty finally wins a major but did anyone notice?
Colin Montgomerie knows a thing or two about Mickelson’s major runner-up blues. After five second-place finishes in grand slam events -- more than anyone who has never won one, according to Iain Carter -- Monty finally racked up a major on the Champions Tour -- a four-shot Senior PGA victory over Tom Watson. Too bad the 31-time European Tour winner did so on the same Sunday that McIlroy and Scott also had headline-making wins.
"I would like to win, some time down the road, wherever that might be. It would be great to try and win in America," the 50-year-old Scot told reporters the day before he claimed a series of firsts -- first win among the 50-and-over set, in seven years, and on U.S. soil. "I always felt that to beat, to win in America's a very difficult thing to do, to come over here and win away from home, on an away patch, on golf courses that are usually suited to the American style of play."
On the strength of his win, Captain Doubtfire has Valhalla and the PGA Championship in his sights.
"If I can drive the ball as well as I did here, and hit my iron shots as well as I did here, and hole out as well as I did here, who says I don’t have a chance at Valhalla?" Montgomerie, who has been absent from regular majors for four years, told James Corrigan about his play in Michigan. "If I can hit 17 greens in regulation around Harbor Shores, like I did in that last-round 65, I can compete at that level again."