MORE than 200,000 people watched as Rory McIlroy was crowned champion golfer of the year after winning the Open at Hoylake.

Thousands piled into Royal Liverpool Golf Course for the final day of the championship on Sunday which saw the Northern Irishman retain his lead, finishing with 271 – just two points clear of runners-up Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.

He is just the third golfer to win three majors by the age of 25 – only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus have achieved that feat before.

Reaching three-quarters of a grand slam has put McIlroy firmly at the top of the list of golfing greats of the present day, something he is keen to continue.

Speaking after his victory, with the iconic Claret Jug sitting proudly at his side, he said: “I am immensely proud of myself.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet but the more I look at the Claret Jug and the more I see my name on it, the more it will sink in.”

He thanked those who had supported him out on the fairways, despite his love of Manchester United.

On Royal Liverpool as a venue, he said: “I think Hoylake is a great course to be on the Open rota. It’s a great test.

“It’s a great golf course, it’s a very fair golf course and I’d like to come back here in the future for sure.”

Sunday saw 42,149 people flock to Hoylake as the sun returned after a wet and stormy third round on Saturday.

Even Hollywood A-lister Samuel L Jackson returned to the course, with social media going into a frenzy as he posted numerous “selfies”.

The total attendance – 202,917 – is less than when the tournament was last held in Hoylake in 2006 – when spectator numbers was recorded at 228,976 – but it is close to 30,000 than when the competition was held in Royal Lytham in 2012 when just 174,953 spectators attended.

After four days of superb championship golf, the Open is over for another year.

But in Wirral, the local authority will be hoping to capitalise on the connections made during the tournament.

Re-read our live blog of the fourth and final day of the Open here.