Pictures of Rory McIroy, the 2014 Open Championship winner, following his final-round 71 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club

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Rory McIlroy came through a tough final day at Royal Liverpool Golf Club to secure his third major and first Open Championship.

McIlroy is only the third player in golf’s history – along with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus – to have won three major championships by the age of 25.

He stared the final round with a six-shot lead and birdied the first hole to settle any lingering nerves.

But Sergio Garcia birdied three of his first five holes, and after McIlroy dropped shots at 5 and 6, the gap was just two. What’s more, only a good up and down from sand at the par-4 7th prevented a third consecutive bogey.

McIlroy holed a 15-footer for birdie at the par-3 9th and made a routine two-putt birdie at the par-5 10th to restore a sizeable advantage.

His lead slipped to two once more following a bogey at 12, but a Garcia dropped shot at the 15th effectively signalled the end of his challenge.

From there, McIlroy birdied the 16th, saved par with aplomb at 17 and two-putted from short range at 18 to secure a significant and much-deserved Open Championship victory.