The final step on Sunday at the Players Championship began with a 181-yard six-iron from the fairway bunker at the 15th hole.
Rahm was at 15-under 201.
He was left with only an 8-iron for his second into the par-5 16th, found the heart of the green for a straightforward birdie putt to move ahead once more and closed out the win with two rock-solid pars.
"It means a lot", McIlroy said. I've actually got an interior design meeting tomorrow morning to pick out some stuff for our new house, so that's the next port of call.
"Maybe if I hadn't have had those experiences, I wouldn't be sitting up here with this trophy, " McIlroy said.
McIlroy's one-shot triumph over Jim Furyk in a field boasting every member of the world's top 50 was his first victory in more than a year. Some fans wore outfits and hats covered in four-leaf clover patterns. Today Rory showed great discipline & patience down stretch to win @THEPLAYERSChamp!
McIlroy has stayed true to himself these past several months as victories eluded him. He won for the first time in almost a year (the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 18, 2018 was his last) and did it navigating a tricky Sunday course that thinned out a cluster of contenders down the stretch. I took me a while to get to that point where I realized who those two people were.
He would be walking away Sunday with plenty of green, too. According to Golf Digest, the winning golfer will earn $2.25 million. Not that he proved inconsistent with a club in his hand; in his last five starts prior to the Players Championship, he managed to finish no worse than sixth.
Two putts later he had his first Players title.
Slow play has become one of the PGA Tour's most talked-about issues, which came to a head at the recent Genesis Open in Los Angeles when victor JB Holmes was lambasted by commentators for his slow final round.
What we do know for certain, however, is this: McIlroy is the 2019 Players Championship victor thanks to a gritty 3-under-par back-nine performance in Sunday's final round that got him to 16-under par for the week and a one-shot victor over Jim Furyk on a chilly, blustery day at TPC Sawgrass. "It's fun to be in front of the home crowd", Furyk said. "Ultimately left it all out there".
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"But I love it out here. Haven't been in that position in awhile".
That includes last year's Masters, when he played with 54-hole leader Patrick Reed. He showed nerves early and a bit of frustration late on his way to a 4-over 76.
"And the way golf works and the way I've always done".
At day's end, the temperamental 24-year-old was pleased he kept his emotions in check as his round came unraveled during some hard moments.
"It's golf", he said.
At THE PLAYERS Championship 2019, Rory McIlroy picked apart TPC Sawgrass with his accurate shot-shaping.
If Rahm was in the zone, McIlroy was in damage control mode.
McIlroy started the final round one shot back. "That's all you need to do, make a good swing in here, two good swings at the last, and this thing is yours". McIlroy hopes his first win in 12 months is a sign of things to come.
"He knew that he was playing some good golf and it was just a matter of time for him to be able to take those opportunities and he obviously did it on a grand stage like he did [Sunday]", said Jason Day, who was paired with McIlroy on Sunday.
"I think it's a lot of things,"said McIlroy in explanation".