McIlroy still has it all to do
RORY McILROY’S quest for a $10 million windfall – the bonus paid to whoever tops the US Tour’s FedEx Cup series – is no done deal. Far from it, in fact.
Although the 23-year-old Ulsterman has been the dominant player in the first three of the four play-off tournaments, the contrived nature of the system is such that he could finish runner-up in this week’s defining Tour Championship and lose out on the jackpot; or, he could finish 29th in the 30-man field and still collect the 10 million greenbacks. The mathematical intricacies of the play-offs have been fixed for effect, to make the final showdown just that: a final examination with maximum clout.
So, McIlroy’s back-to-back wins in the Deutsche Bank championship and the BMW championship – the second and third legs of the series – and his attempts for a three-timer of successive wins make him the player in pole position going into the deciding tournament but that winning run is offset by the fact that the points won to date have been restructured to open up the field of potential winners of the bonus jackpot.
Ultimately, though, McIlroy controls his own destiny from the point of view that, should he continue his winning hot streak and add the Tour Championship to his stellar season, he also scoops the FedEx Cup. Indeed, that same scenario fits any one of the players in the top-five heading to the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. McIlroy may be the man to catch but any one of Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson or Brandt Snedeker could tie-up the huge bonus prize by securing a win in the play-off finale.
McIlroy, the world number one, has been in supreme form of late. He followed up his win in the US PGA at Kiawah Island – where he claimed a second career Major – with a 24th-place finish in the first of the FedEx Cup tournaments at the Barclays before going on to win back-to-back at the Deutsche Bank and the BMW.
Since then, McIlroy has spent time in New York – including a guest appearance on the Jimmy Fallon Show which broadcasts on NBC where he agreed with the TV host that he was “the greatest” player in the world – and will make a debut appearance at East Lake.
McIlroy – one of five European Ryder Cup players in the field in Atlanta, along with Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia – has admitted that his winning streak has become “normal”.
Of his current streak, McIlroy said: “The more you put yourself in position and the more you win and the more you pick up trophies, it feels like this is what you’re supposed to do . . . I don’t think I am quite there yet, but I’m getting to that stage where I’m thinking, ‘this is what I should be doing. I should be lifting a trophy at the end of the week’ . . . I feel like it’s just coming to me naturally. I just want to try and keep this run going and keep the confidence level up where it is.”
McIlroy’s season moved up a notch since claiming that second Major at the PGA to add to his 2011 US Open success. The Northern Irishman won the Honda Classic in Florida back in March before hitting a mini-slump that saw him miss the cut five times on either side of the Atlantic, including the Players championship and the BMW PGA at Wentworth.