Northern Ireland golf star Rory McIlroy gave himself an early 21st birthday present by nailing his first PGA tour victory at the Quail Hollow Championship in North Carolina.

The 20-year-old, who celebrates his next birthday on Tuesday, managed to sink a  40-foot birdie putt on the final hole Sunday to set the course record with a 10-under 62.

McIlroy thus becomes the youngest PGA Tour winner since Tiger Woods in 1996.

The tournament was climactic until the end. McIlroy played his final five holes in 5 under, including a 5-iron to 3 feet for eagle on the 15th hole that gave him the lead for good. It was the second victory of his career.

It is his first win in America.

"I suppose I just got in the zone," said McIlroy after the win. "I didn't realise I was going eight, nine, 10 under par. I just knew I'd got my nose in front, I was just trying to stay there.

"Ever since I was 10 or 11 I wanted to be a professional golfer and you know it's been a crazy ride to this point. I'm just delighted to get here and get my first win of the year and to do it on a golf course like this is an amazing feeling.

"I'm going to have a bit of a party on Tuesday night down in Sawgrass. If I was back home and had a win like this I'd be having a good one tonight."

With this victory, McIlroy has gone back to ninth in the world golf rankings, and  just a few weeks after contemplating a break from golf  due to poor form and lingering back problems, the Down native can look forward to the rest of the season with renewed vigor.