Here the Northern Irishman claimed the 94th US PGA Championship, the second major of his career, with the kind of Sunday front-running which was once the forte of Woods. McIlroy arrived in South Carolina merely seeking to compete, or so he claimed, and left with the Wanamaker Trophy in hand. A return to the summit of the world rankings looks inevitable.
It somehow seemed poetic that Woods was among those unable to keep pace with McIlroy, who even donned his hero's iconic red colours for the final 18 holes. The apprentice is a long way from overtaking the sorcerer but McIlroy's career has just been given the impetus which belies the theory that it was in some kind of lull.
"I'm speechless," McIlroy said. "It has been an incredible week. I had a good feeling about it at the start but I never imagined it would turn out like this."
If the seeds of McIlroy's success were sewn on Sunday morning – when he completed his delayed third round of 67 – what followed was mightily impressive stuff. McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to win the event by eight strokes, a US PGA record, thereby coping with inevitable nerves in a manner which Woods used to display as second nature.
Last year's US Open champion previously said he would cherish a second major title more than his first; now he can know for certain.
McIlroy's insurmountable position was confirmed with six holes to play. A birdie putt at the 12th dropped in the side door, leaving the leader an advantage of six shots. He becomes the fourth youngest US PGA Champion of all time.
McIlroy's only cause for concern lay in recent history. Three times this season, 54-hole major leaders have failed to close out victory. Adam Scott was the victim of the most notable crumble, at last month's Open Championship. Scott again featured prominently on the Ocean Course, in testament to his character, but like so many others found McIlroy in no mood for concession.
At times it is easy to forget that McIlroy is only 23. He has sampled his own major championship heartbreak, in what was an infamous collapse during the closing stretch of last year's Masters. McIlroy maintained that he learned from such trauma and now has evidence to back up such a point.
On Sunday at Kiawah he barely put a foot wrong and, on the rare occasion he did, breaks fell McIlroy's way. But for missed birdie opportunities in the morning, McIlroy would have cantered to an even more comfortable win.
A meaningful challenge from Woods never materialised, keeping the American in that curious position of never having won a major when trailing before the last round. In this instance Woods became increasingly erratic from the tee as desperation set in. His invincibility cloak slipped off some time ago; there remains only the occasional trace of it returning to the Woods wardrobe.
Instead England's Ian Poulter emerged from the pack with the kind of brilliant run which briefly had McIlroy looking over his shoulder. "When Rory plays golf like he's playing this week, and obviously the last couple of days, he's very impressive to watch," Poulter said. "You know, everybody should take note; the guy's pretty good."
Poulter birdied six of his first seven holes in the closing round, moving to within two of the lead. He was in the same position after 12 but dropped shots on each of the three subsequent holes to end his charge. There was the consolation, nonetheless, of a tie for third and a leap into the automatic berths for Europe's upcoming Ryder Cup defence.
A costly finish for Poulter meant another Englishman, the Stoke-based David Lynn, claimed second place. This marked only Lynn's second appearance in a major; he departed with a cheque for $865,000 and an invitation to next year's Masters.
Of the others who fell short, Carl Pettersson will be the most rueful. The Swede incurred a two-shot penalty on the 1st having accidentally moved a loose impediment – a leaf – during his backswing inside a lateral water hazard. Rules are rules but that particular one is clearly flawed. The incident fatally undermined Pettersson's hopes of overhauling McIlroy.
And so to the bare statistics of McIlroy's sixth professional success. His second victory arrived at his 17th major appearance. McIlroy is younger than Woods was, if only by a matter of four months, when becoming a double major winner. Tommy Armour, in 1930, was the last player from the UK to win the US PGA Championship. There will be plenty time for McIlroy to reflect on such notes in golfing history as, indeed, there is ample opportunity for him to etch further indelible marks.
Honourable mentions are due to Justin Rose, Wales's Jamie Donaldson and Graeme McDowell. Rose closed with a 66 to claim a top-three finish despite landing in the water on the par-three 17th.
"I've got a lot of self-belief now," Rose said. "I think my game is good enough to win these tournaments."
McDowell signed for 71 to tie 11th in the company of Woods and Scott, among others. Donaldson tied seventh.
They had all run their race by the time a fresh-faced boy from Co Down marched down the 18th fairway. In a marathon 27-hole Sunday finish McIlroy led superbly from the front.
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image: © Ed McDonald