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This week's Wells Fargo Championship holds good memories for Rory McIlroy: the tournament witnessed his first PGA Tour win 12 years ago and he has won it again on another three occasions, including last year.
He's a great fit for the host course, Quail Hollow, and said of it in 2019: "I love this place. I feel like I don't even have to play that good and I can still get it around."
Unfortunately, this year the tournament takes a one year sabbatical to TPC Potomac so McIlroy must defend his title there instead of in his sweet spot, but he arrives riding a wave after he ended the Masters with an electric round of 64.
Let's take a look at each and every one of McIlroy's 20 PGA Tour triumphs.
2010 Quail Hollow Championship
2010 was McIlroy's first year on the PGA Tour, his reputation was huge, and yet the early signs were poor. He was out of form even before he missed cuts at both the Houston Open and the Masters.
America was getting sceptical about the wonder kid and his quest for a first seasonal top 30 didn't look promising when he only made the weekend of Quail Hollow Championship by the skin of his teeth, nine shots behind the lead. A third round 66 launched an audacious bid for victory and a final round 62 sealed it. He'd broken his duck and he'd done it in style. "I flushed it," he said, two days before his 21st birthday.
2011 US Open
Golfers are not expected to make a complete mess of a Major Championship and then win the next one by a country mile. But the fact McIlroy did just that in winning his very first was proof that he was a little different.
In April he had imploded at Augusta National on the back nine, Sunday. Two months later he led the field by three after 18 holes, by six after 36, by eight after 54, and he maintained that advantage to the end. Major duck broken and in spectacular style.
2012 Honda Classic
A first win in Florida, a state McIlroy spent lots of time in as a kid, and also a first brush with taking on a charging Tiger Woods, whose final round 62 earned him second and applied pressure.
2012 PGA Championship
McIlroy would later admit that he had once struggled with Pete Dye designs. But in finishing third at Whistling Straits in 2010 he got over his problem (which he likened to beer when you're younger - "once you acquire the taste it's okay").
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 18, 2021
And at Kiawah Island in 2012 he more than proved it, overcoming an errant second round of 75 to defeat a Major Championship field by eight strokes yet again.
2012 Deutsche Bank Championship
A third win of the year and one in which he duelled throughout all 72 holes with Tiger Woods (who finished third) and Louis Oosthuizen (who was second).
2012 BMW Championship
A first Major win on home soil. He had had, and he would have, problems on the linksland, mostly when the wind blew, but at Royal Liverpool he was supreme. He led by one after 18 holes, by six on Saturday night, and posted a solid 71 to win by two.
The watching world predicted greatness. A prescient Woods noted: "He has his hot weeks and he has his off weeks. Very similar to what Phil does. That's just the nature of how he plays the game."
2014 WGC Bridgestone Invitational
Firestone Country Club suits fine drivers of the golf ball so it was always going to be a great fit for McIlroy and he was in a fine run of high summer form. He trailed Sergio Garcia by three with 18 holes to play, posted a 66, and won by two.
2014 PGA Championship
A third win in as many starts, all of it taking place in a four week spell of golfing glory. McIlroy won by just the one stroke, holding off a fast-finishing Phil Mickelson by one blow in almost complete darkness.
A bizarre end to the tournament and yet no more curious than the fact that it's the last time McIlroy won a Major Championship.
2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play
A first, and to date, only match play success, completed with a 4&2 victory over Gary Woodland at TPC Harding Park.
2015 Wells Fargo Championship
Back at the home of his first win in America, probably the course he loves the most - Quail Hollow. Again he went low, this time with a third round 61 which opened up a four shot lead over the field which he stretched to seven by the end of play on Sunday.
2016 Deutsche Bank Championship
A second win at TPC Boston and one that would set up a charge to the line in the FedEx Cup after a faltering start to the year.
2016 Tour Championship
Two blows back of the lead with 18 holes to play, he forced a play-off with the unlikely pair of Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore. He won that and, with it, the $10million bonus pool for winning the FedEx Cup.
2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational
An 18 month gap between wins was ended by a ruthless final round of 64 at Arnie's Place. It saw him overhaul Henrik Stenson and Bryson DeChambeau, and brush away the challenges of Justin Rose and Tiger Woods.
2019 THE PLAYERS Championship
Early in his career McIlroy was involved in a bizarre Chubby Chandler/Darren Clarke/Lee Westwood/ISM ding-dong with THE PLAYERS and he also had his difficulties with Dye's TPC Sawgrass. But he put that to bed with a stunning display in the "fifth Major".
— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) May 4, 2020
2019 Canadian Open
A second win of the year and timely too. The Open's return to Royal Portrush was a mere weeks away and what better way to warm up than a win on another Harry Colt design? It seemed to have set him up for a bid at home soil glory. (Wack-wack-oops - that never happened.)
2019 Tour Championship
The seeds of his victory were sown in the past. A year before McIlroy had walked the final hole with his hero Woods as the great man secured an emotional win. "I didn't enjoy that walk last year like everyone else did," McIlroy admitted. "I played terribly. I got myself into the final group and never took the fight to Tiger."
He also got turned over by Brooks Koepka a month before his return to East Lake and now the two were reunited on Sunday. "He got one over me in Memphis," McIlroy said. "I wanted to get some revenge today." And he did.
2019 WGC HSBC Championship
He was caught in the final round by Xander Schauffele, but stood firm in extra holes to complete a third World Golf Championship success.
2021 Wells Fargo Championship
His five strokeplay scores ahead of this event read 76-79-75-76-74. Surely the only thing that could offer hope was a return to Quail Hollow? Yep. He made a slow start, carded a brilliant 66 on Friday, and did what he had to at the weekend.
2021 CJ CUP
Victory number 20 on a course that suited. McIlroy is never happier than when he has the driver in his hands and Tom Fazio courses allow him to so that - even Fazio's re-design at Quail Hollow. It also helped that McIlroy ranked first for Strokes Gained Putting for just the third time in his career.
The players to reach 20 PGA Tour wins since 1990 and their age at the time:
1991 Wadkins, 41
1994 Irwin, 48
1997 Norman, 42
2000 Woods, 24
2002 Mickelson, 31
2004 Singh, 41
2008 Love III, 44
2019 DJ, 34
Rory is 32
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) October 17, 2021
The article Rory McIlroy’s 20 PGA Tour wins: From breakthrough at the 2010 Wells Fargo to last year's CJ CUP appeared first on Planetsport.com.