Magnificent McIlroy casts a huge shadow
Golf has been waiting for someone to break from the shadows and with a loping yet triumphant stride Rory McIlroy did exactly that with his second major victory.
The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland was always the most likely candidate to break a sequence that had produced a four-year run of 16 different major winners.
The moment was there to be seized and in the modern game there is no one better in that regard than the sublimely talented McIlroy.
The 2011 US Open champion was heavily criticised at last year's Open when he admitted he would have to wait for the right conditions to win the one major staged on British soil.
Rory McIlroy celebrates winning his second major title after his eight-shot victory in the US PGA at Kiawah Island. Photo: Getty
McIlroy says those comments were made out of frustration, but despite this win they continue to ring true.
Kiawah Island provided the perfect setting for his game and it is little wonder that when he arrived at the Ocean Course last Monday he soon had a feeling it could be his week.
He stood in the locker room and looked out at the spectacular setting in the knowledge that his game was back in decent shape. He also quickly realised the course he surveyed would suit it to a tee.
Despite being set beside the sea, Kiawah is a "through the air" course, particularly after it had been softened by heavy rains.
The sticky paspalum grass greens and surrounds take bump and run chips out of the equation and that played to McIlroy's strengths.
He fits well with PGA of America course set-ups and had twice finished third in this championship in three previous attempts to land the last major of the year.
Yet he still had to make these advantages count against the strongest major field of the season. Until Ben Crane pulled out on the eve of the championship, the top 103 players in the world were on the start list.
And he also had to battle the tough winds of the second round. His 75 on Friday, three strokes below the average score that day, was as important as his spectacular weekend scores of 67 and 66.
McIlroy made two late birdies in the second round that kept him within two strokes of the lead at the halfway point. They provided the launch pad for the victory that has taken him back to the top of the world rankings.
Inevitably he can now lap up the praise of which his talents are so deserving. US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III is among those who were impressed by the Ulsterman's record breaking eight shot win.
"He played a great week of golf and you have to respect that," Love told BBC Sport. "Any time you run away from one of the best fields in golf it is an incredible story. You have to be impressed and excited for the guy.
"When Rory gets the bit he goes. He's not afraid to go ahead and blow them out of the water.
"I noticed recently he's been anxious. He'd been playing well and was ready to break loose and that's what great champions do. They play well in big tournaments, they turn it loose when it really, really counts.
"Rory has proved he's ready for the limelight, ready for the big stage and as a PGA champion I love this Championship and seeing guys play as well as that to win it."
Love's European counterpart Jose Maria Olazabal will equally have enjoyed the outcome, particularly with the tenacious Ian Poulter forcing his way into the automatic top 10 for the European team.
How significant McIlroy's victory is for Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup next month is less easy to predict, though. Certainly Love doesn't feel that it puts his American team at a disadvantage.
"Does it ultimately matter that Rory's won the PGA when we get to Medinah?" Love said.
"It gives him confidence and it gives his team some confidence but I remember some times when Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard and Davis Love were major champions and it didn't work out for us and we got beaten soundly.
"In the end it only matters how you play those three days."
Europe's domination of the final major means that Love's list of automatic qualifiers didn't change and Phil Mickelson hung on to his place in the team without needing a wildcard.
The American captain will choose four from a list that includes Steve Stricker (almost certain), Jim Furyk (almost certain) Hunter Mahan (probable), Rickie Fowler (probable) and Dustin Johnson (possible).
For Europe Sergio Garcia has been nudged out by Poulter but has the consolation of encouraging words last week from Olazabal. Garcia plays his last counting event on the PGA Tour this week.
Meanwhile David Lynn, the surprise runner up at Kiawah on his first tournament appearance in America, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Nicolas Colsaerts will go to next week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles with hopes of forcing their way into the European side.
No such worries for McIlroy, who has long since been guaranteed his place at Medinah.
Instead he can contemplate his new position at the head of the game. The rest of the golfing world lies in his shadow.