Woods opens door for McIlroy

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

Golf:Rory McIlroy has a $10 million cheque firmly in his sights again with only two rounds of the FedEx Cup play-offs to go. The 23-year-old world number one is “only” seventh at halfway at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, but that would be good enough to scoop the jackpot given who is leading and where his main challengers are.

Jim Furyk, who lifted the huge prize two years ago on the eve of the last Ryder Cup, moved out in front at East Lake by going to the turn in a spectacular 29 and handing in a 64. But McIlroy, whose 68 was his 10th successive sub-70 score, would not mind Furyk winning the event on Sunday as long as he maintains his position and Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and Nick Watney do not come storming through.

That quartet all came into the final week of the plays-off knowing the $10 million would be theirs if they won the tournament, but Woods fell from joint first to 12th yesterday with an error-ridden 73, Snedeker is 10th, Mickelson 16th and Watney last of the 30 players.

McIlroy, whose long-term commitment to the PGA Tour looks even more certain with his decision to put his home in Ireland up for sale, said: “I’m happy with the position I’m in. First and foremost I just have to try to think of my standing in this golf tournament, not really about anything else.

“If it comes down to it where I need to really know what I have to do for the last few holes, if I have a decision to make between protecting my lead in the FedEx Cup or trying to win the tournament, I think I know what I’m going to choose.

“But we just have to play until we reach that point and at the minute, I’m just concentrating on trying to play as well as I can. I was sort of in a similar position in ‘09 battling Lee Westwood (for the European Tour money list title).

“I went in with not much of a lead, but he ended up winning the tournament, I finished third and he won. Here there is a little more to play for, but it’s been great. It’s just nice to be a part of those five guys that sort of control their own destiny.”

On his house sale McIlroy added: “I’m only spending about two weeks a year back home, so from a financial point of view it didn’t make sense to keep it. I’m travelling all over the world, I don’t have a full-time base over here (in America) and don’t think I will for a while.”

On many of his weeks off McIlroy travels to see Danish girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, the former tennis world number one, and he added: “Hopefully when I go home Mum and Dad will have a room for me!”

Despite being off the pace Woods is not ready to give in just yet. He said: “I’m still right there. This is a golf course that is playing tough. But some of the pins are pretty accessible. It’s imperative to get the ball on the fairway, and from there, can you attack.

“I figured something out on the back nine with my stroke, which was good. But I still need to hit the ball better than I did today, for sure.”

Furyk took a one-stroke lead over England’s Justin Rose into the weekend, Rose’s second successive birdie on the difficult short 18th taking him one in front of Bubba Watson and Bo Van Pelt.

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