ANCASTER, Ontario — Call it the zone, call it the flow.
Whatever you call it, Rory McIlroy is familiar with the feeling that golf is easy, that he can swing freely and nothing bad will happen.
He first felt it at age 16 when he shot 61 at Royal Portrush Golf Club in his native Northern Ireland, which will host the British Open next month. He experienced it during runaway victories at the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. And he savored it again on Sunday en route to another 61, with this one giving him a seven-shot victory in the Canadian Open.
"I think when you play, you get into stretches like this, you do get into some sort of flow, that flow state or in the zone or whatever anyone wants to call it," McIlroy said. "I definitely got into that a little bit today at the start of the back nine. It was the same that day at Portrush all those years ago.
"It's almost like you're out of your own body and looking at yourself play. For some times today, that's how it felt. So if I could bottle that feeling and take it with me week to week, I would. Sort of comes and goes."
McIlroy added the Canadian Open to his schedule for the first time largely because it was moved to the week before the U.S. Open. He turned the major-championship tune-up into a career highlight, becoming the sixth golfer to win national championships in Britain, Canada and the United States. Lee Trevino (1971) and Tiger Woods (2000) are the only players to win all three in the same season, something McIlroy could do this year with victories at the U.S. Open, which starts Thursday at Pebble Beach Golf Links, and the British Open.
It was the 30-year-old's fifth win in a national open, following the U.S. Open (2011), Australian Open (2013), British Open (2014) and Irish Open (2016). McIlroy also counts the Hong Kong Open (2011) as part of his tally of national championships.
"Some of the greats of the game have won this trophy. For me to put my name on it is something I'm very proud of," McIlroy said. "Part of the reason for playing here was I wanted my game to be in good shape for Pebble Beach, but (that) doesn't mean this tournament doesn't mean anything."
McIlroy shared the lead with Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson after the third round, but he ended any suspense about who would emerge as the champion with five birdies in his first seven holes, none from longer than eight feet.
The only question on the back nine was whether McIlroy would shoot the 11th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history. He made four straight birdies from Nos. 11-14, and a bogey on the par-3 16th stalled him only momentarily. He followed with a 7-iron shot from 196 yards to 2 1/2 from the hole feet for eagle on the par-5 17th to get to 10 under at par-70 Hamilton Golf and Country Club, but he missed the green on the par-4 18th and his bunker shot went long.
He ended up tapping in for bogey to finish at a tournament-record 22-under 258, and the 61 equaled the low round of his PGA Tour career. McIlroy was five shots off the lead entering the weekend and shot 64 on Saturday before finding another gear Sunday as he earned his 16th PGA Tour victory and 25th win worldwide.
Shane Lowry (67) and Webb Simpson (68) tied for second at 15 under, with Kuchar (70) and Brandt Snedeker (69) tied for fourth at 13 under. Adam Hadwin, seeking to become the first Canadian winner of the event since 1954, closed with a 70 and finished sixth at 12 under. His consolation prize was a spot in the British Open.
Baylor School graduates Stephan Jaeger and Harris English both finished in the top 20. Jaeger closed with a 66 and tied for 14th at 8 under, while English shot his third straight 69 and shared 20th at 7 under.
PGA Tour Champions: Could be Scott McCarron's year
NARITA-SHI, Chiba — Scott McCarron made three birdies on the back nine at Narita Golf Club to pull away for a 5-under 67 and a three-shot victory in the MasterCard Japan Championship.
McCarron, who finished the 54-hole tournament at 13-under 203, won for the third time this year to extend his lead in the PGA Tour Champions' season-long Charles Schwab Cup standings. It's his fourth consecutive year of multiple victories on the 50-and-older tour.
McCarron, 53, is now an 11-time winner on the senior circuit after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
Billy Andrade (68) and Kirk Triplett (69) tied for second as U.S. golfers filled the top three places. Another American, Scott Parel (69), shared fourth with Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke (69) at 9 under.
Ooltewah's Gibby Gilbert III (70) tied for 49th at 3 over.
Lexi Thompson rallies for LPGA Tour victory
GALLOWAY, N.J. — Lexi Thompson made a 20-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole to complete a late comeback and win the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Thompson trailed South Korea's Jeongeun Lee6 by two strokes after the 15th but closed by going birdie-par-eagle to shoot a 4-under 67 and finish the 54-hole event at 12-under 201. The 24-year-old won for the 11th time on the LPGA Tour.
Lee6, coming off a win at the U.S. Women's Open the weekend before and playing two groups behind Thompson, lost her lead with consecutive bogeys on Nos. 13 through 15 on the Bay Course at Seaview Hotel and Golf Club before bouncing back with a birdie at No. 16 to tie Thompson. However, needing an eagle to force a playoff after reaching the 18th green in two shots, Lee6 missed a 45-foot putt and settled for a birdie and a 70.
Ally McDonald (70) was third at 9 under, two shots ahead of Anna Nordqvist (69).