Rory McIlroy admitted to feeling relieved at ending his 18-month title drought on the PGA Tour, after winning the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
The Northern Irishman, who turned 32 last week, survived a scare on the final hole, when he had to take a drop after his tee shot came to rest inside a penalty area. However, he could afford to drop a shot at the 72nd and still win by one from Mexico's Abraham Ancer.
The victory is McIlroy's 19th on the PGA Tour and his first since November 2019. It comes with a cheque for $1,458,000, taking his career earnings on the tour to $56,368,517 - above Justin Rose and Adam Scott into sixth overall.
It also propels him back inside the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking. He will find himself in seventh spot when the rankings are updated on Monday.
"There's been a lot of hard work," said the four-time major champ. "I've put my head down, I haven't really looked too much in either direction. I've just tried to do what I need to do."
McIlroy, who has now won three times at Quail Hollow, added that he almost had to withdraw after injuring his neck on the eve of the tournament.
"I had done a really good practice session on the range. I hit a 3-iron, flushed it and I turned back to talk to Harry [Diamond, caddie] and as I turned, my left side of my neck just completely locked up and I couldn't move it. It was really, really strange.
"I stopped what I was doing and I went and got some treatment. I iced it all of Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday night. I woke up Thursday, didn't have much movement. I was trying to make a backswing and could only maybe take it half the way back before it started to catch.
Back in the winner's circle. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/k0oL5h8U59— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 9, 2021
"If I had been playing Thursday morning, I probably would have pulled out, but I had enough time to get treatment Thursday morning, get it loosened up."
McIlroy's win is also his first since he added acclaimed English coach Pete Cowen to his team back in March.
"He deserves a good bit of credit for it, for sure," added the four-time major champ. "It's satisfying to see the work is paying off, but it's just the start.
"There's so much more I want to achieve and so much more I want to do in the game. But this is, as I said, nice validation that I'm on the right track."