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It didn’t take long for what little drama lingered to be extinguished.

McIlroy stuck his approach shot into the green at No. 1 within 12 feet, then rolled in a birdie putt to extend his lead to nine. Three holes later, he drained a short birdie putt to reach 16 under and push his lead to double-digits.

McIlroy’s seemingly easy week - a three-shot lead over Yang after Thursday that was pushed to six strokes a day later - also provided a compelling answer to questions of how well golf could survive without former No. 1 and 14-time major winner Tiger Woods.

Woods, who comparably burst onto the scene at 21 with a 12-stroke victory at the 1997 Masters, was absent from the tournament as he continued to recover from injuries.

Should Woods, who has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, return in time for next month’s British Open, he’ll find the latest prodigy ready to usurp his crown as the golf world’s most compelling figure.

McIlroy has some distance to go before he matches Woods’ accomplishments, but in owning the field at Congressional, he also owns his first major.

The first, it would seem, of many more to come.

“Nothing this kid does ever surprises me,” said countryman Graeme McDowell, who won last year’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in California. “He’s the best player I’ve ever seen.”