Part of complete coverage on
Resurgent McIlroy upstaged by unlikely Laird charge in Texas
April 7, 2013 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
- World No. 2 Rory McIlroy finishes second at the Texas Open on Sunday
- Martin Laird, ranked 117th, surges up the leaderboard to claim PGA Tour win
- The Scot earns a place at the Masters after his first victory since 2011
- McIlroy returns to form with a 66 with his best finish in the U.S. since last year
(CNN) -- While Rory McIlroy was steadily playing himself into form for this week's Masters, an unexpected challenger came through to earn a place at Augusta with a shock win at the Texas Open on Sunday.
Scottish golfer Martin Laird fired nine-under-par 63 in the final round, with birdies at his last three holes, to end McIlroy's hopes of a morale-boosting victory.
The world No. 2, who canceled a humanitarian trip to Haiti last week to make a late entry in San Antonio, had to settle for second place after closing with 66.
"Even though I didn't get the trophy, Martin was just too good today -- 63 in these conditions is just phenomenal," McIlroy said.
It was his best finish in the U.S. since winning last September's BMW Championship, which helped the Northern Irishman top the money list before adding the European Tour title to his swag.
Read: Cactus pricks sparks McIlroy revival
CNN Explains: The Masters
Bubba Watson's hovercraft is for real
Is McIlroy ready for the Masters?
Watch Watson's 'Golf Boys 2.OH' video
"I'm really pleased with my game and I think this has been a great week for me," he said.
The 23-year-old has struggled this season following his reported $250 million switch to Nike equipment, and surrendered the No. 1 ranking to Tiger Woods last month.
"Just eliminating the stupid mistakes that I was making on the course, mental errors, and to finish off this tournament in the way I did today is great going into Augusta," McIlroy said.
Laird triumphed by two shots as he earned his third PGA Tour win, and his first since 2011, as he ended a run of 14 American winners on the PGA Tour this season.
Read: McIlroy - I know what I'm doing
The 30-year-old, ranked 117th in the world before this tournament, had missed the cut in half of his eight starts this year, with a best finish of 34th.
"It's unbelievable. I've been asked probably 30 times in the last couple of weeks 'Are you in Augusta? Are you in Augusta?' and I've had to say 'No' and every time it kind of hurt me a little bit after playing the last couple," Laird said.
"So that was my major motivation to try to get back into tournaments like that this year, and this win goes a long way in doing that."
Read: 'Dufnering' craze grips golf
Overnight leader Billy Horschel missed out on his first victory -- and a Masters debut -- as a 71 left him three shots behind Laird.
He tied for third with 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and another American, Charley Hoffman -- who both shot 69.
Veteran Korean K.J. Choi was sixth on nine-under 279, five shots off the winner.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1609 GMT (0009 HKT)
CNN's Living Golf focuses on women's golf, charting the growth of the sport from royal pastime to multi-million dollar machine.
October 1, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
"I don't know how to paint happy," says golf's poster girl Michelle Wie. "I think it releases a lot of the darker feelings in me."
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1213 GMT (2013 HKT)
If you're a U.S. golf fan, or Tom Watson, look away now.
September 25, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
A ban on uploading social media pictures from the course at Gleneagles was dropped for the Ryder Cup.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 1052 GMT (1852 HKT)
A spot of shopping, the odd spa day and some serious flag waving. Welcome to the life of a Ryder Cup WAG.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
Tom Watson has learned plenty in the 21 years since he was last U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but social media is proving to be problematic.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Patriotism will reach fever pitch when the USA and Europe collide in golf's Ryder Cup ... and it looks like Rickie Fowler has let it go to his head.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Pressure is inescapable in the cauldron of Ryder Cup competition -- pressure and ping pong.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
Millions of golf fans were watching on television with great anticipation. All Martin Kaymer could think about was getting his phone out.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
She's just 19 but Hyo Joo Kim is already showing she's ready for the big time after recording the lowest ever round at a major championship.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1131 GMT (1931 HKT)
The world's top women golfers will be chasing a $3.25 million prize purse at one of the most stunning courses on the LPGA Tour.