Rory McIlroy came through a challenging final round to secure his first Open Championship and join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three majors by the age of 25

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Rory McIlroy came through a challenging final round to secure his first Open Championship and join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win three majors by the age of 25.

The Irishman fired a closing round of 71 to finish on 17-under-par and complete three legs of a career Grand Slam, a feat only achieved by five players: Woods, Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan.

Sergio Garcia produced a fine closing round of 66 and Rickie Fowler recorded an excellent 67, but they were always going to need help.

It was a closer affair than most anticipated, though, with McIlroy struggling on the front nine after an opening birdie 3 saw him move to 17-under-par.

Dropped shots at 5 and 6, coupled with Garcia birdies at 1, 3 and 5 saw the Ulsterman’s lead cut to four at the turn.

And when Garcia rolled in a 12-footer for eagle on the par-5 10th, the gap was just two.

But McIlroy made birdie at the 10th – the easiest hole all week – to restore a three-shot advantage, and although a dropped shot at the par-3 13th made things edgy once more, Garcia left his second in the bunker on 15 and walked off with a bogey that effectively signalled the end of his Open Championship challenge.

McIlroy had dominated the long holes all week, and you always felt he’d have too much with two reachable par-5s over the last three holes.

And so it proved. He notched a two-putt birdie on the 16th, made a solid up-and-down on the tough 17th and closed out with an easy par on 18 to finish two clear of Garcia and Fowler, who compiled an impressive bogey-free 67 but never really threatened.

Jim Furyk shot a final-round 65 to finish alone in fifth, one shot clear of Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.

Shane Lowry produced a superb 65 to force his way into an Open Championship top 10 also featuring Europeans Graeme McDowell, Edoardo Molinari and Victor Dubuisson.

At the other end of the field, Tiger Woods carded a three-over-par 75 – good enough for a six-over-par 72-hole total and 69th position.