BY NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (AP) -- Rory McIlroy hit off wood chips and out of sand. He even stuck one shot in a tree branch -- and went on to make par like it was no big deal.
By the time the PGA Championship was over, he was in a class by himself.
"On 18, I was just taking the whole thing in," McIlroy said. "I allowed myself the luxury of walking up 18 knowing that I was going to win. I enjoyed the moment, just let it all sink in."
Another major championship masterpiece for the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with seemingly unlimited potential.
From the start of the weekend, McIlroy looked like the man to beat at Kiawah Island, and nobody came close. He won Sunday by a record eight strokes, with a flair and charisma that could turn him into golf's next star.
Remember all that talk about how no lead is safe in 2012? McIlroy was in front the entire final round.
"I set myself a target," he said. "I said, 'Look, if I get to 12 under par, nobody is going to catch me.'"
He was at 12 under when he walked toward the 18th green with a seven-shot lead, but a par there would have been anticlimactic. Instead, McIlroy rolled in a 25-foot birdie -- and in the process surpassed the PGA Championship record for margin of victory that Jack Nicklaus set in 1980.
McIlroy returned to No. 1 in the world and became the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros to win two majors. Tiger Woods was about four months older than McIlroy when he won his second major.