Rory McIlroy goes it alone in bid for $10m FedEx Cup bonus
Golfer is sole member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team competing in championship
Rory McIlroy in action during the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Alone, all alone; not that it should bother Rory McIlroy that he is the sole member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team competing in the Tour Championship – the finale to the FedEx Cup – at East Lake in Atlanta, starting on Thursday. In contrast, eight members of Davis Love’s USA team are in the field.
It’s the last gig, as it were, before Hazeltine, but McIlroy will be more concerned with trying to win the actual tournament and the possibility of scooping the $10 million bonus jackpot that goes to the FedEx Cup winner. To collect that financial windfall, the Northern Irishman must win the tournament, with Dustin Johnson, the current leader of the rankings, finishing tied-second or worse.
Each of the 30 players in the field has a mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup title, although the top five – Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Paul Casey – are the only players who can control their own destiny. If any of that quintet wins the Tour Championship, then he would also claim the FedEx Cup. Day, who withdrew from the BMW with a sore back, is expected to play.
After a tied-31st finish in the Barclays, the opening event of the playoffs, McIlroy’s win in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston earlier in the month was followed by a tied-42nd in the BMW before a week’s break during which he attended a charity fundraiser in Chicago for Luke Donald’s foundation.
So, he tees-up at East Lake within touching distance of achieving that first aim, and then – following the Ryder Cup – can set his sights on attaining the other as the European Tour season runs into November with a finish in Dubai. He is currently third, behind Danny Willett, in the R2D standings.
There are a lot of scenarios and subplots playing off at the Tour Championship, with the title and the bonus megabucks the main acts but with Love set to reveal his fourth and final “wild card” pick for Hazeltine at the conclusion of the championship. This delayed selection was part of the suggestion put forward by the USA task force which was set up in the aftermath of the Ryder Cup defeat at Gleneagles two years ago.
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While eight members of the US Ryder Cup team are playing in East Lake, McIlroy is the only member of the European team who made it to the Tour Championship. Two others – Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters – are competing in the Porsche European Open in Griesbach, Germany.
Of the six European Ryder Cuppers who used the Italian Open as the final preparatory tournament, US Masters champion Danny Willett – who finished runner-up to Francesco Molinari – performed best. Rafa Cabrera-Bello (12th), Matt Fitzpatrick (15th), Andy Sullivan (20th) and Chris Wood (20th) enjoyed decent tune-ups, with only Lee Westwood missing the cut.
Willett felt his duel with Francesco Molinari will serve him well. “Against Frankie in Italy is tough. I’m sure it’s going to be 100 times worse when we get to the Ryder Cup in America but it’s been a little bit of a taster. It’s been good to play under that pressure and be under the gun and be in contention,” said the Englishman, one of six Ryder Cup rookies on the travelling team.
FedEx Cup The scenarios
1 Dustin Johnson If he wins the Tour Championship, he also wins the FedEx Cup. He can finish as low as 29th and still have a mathematical chance to scoop the $10 million bonus.
2 Patrick Reed If he wins the Tour Championship, he wins the FedEx Cup. He also has a reasonable chance of winning with a top-three finish and can finish as low as a two-way tie for sixth and still have a mathematical chance.
3 Adam Scott If he wins the Tour Championship, he wins the FedEx Cup. He has a reasonable chance of winning with a second place finish and can finish as low as tied-fourth and still have a mathematical chance of winning.
4 Jason Day If he wins at East Lake, he wins the FedEx Cup. He also has a reasonable chance of winning with a second-place finish and can finish as low as tied-third and still retain a mathematical chance of winning.
5 Paul Casey If he wins the Tour Championship, he wins the FedEx Cup. The Englishman – who is not a member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team after opting not to take up European Tour membership – can finish in a two-way tie for second and still have a chance of winning.
6 Rory McIlroy Only the top-five going into East Lake have destiny in their own hands. The Northern Irishman must win the Tour Championship and Johnson must finish tied-second or worse.