Rory McIlroy Completes Sparkling PGA Tour Season With FedEx Cup Win
Rory McIlroy shot a final round of 66 to finish on 18-under-par and win the Tour Championship at East Lake and, with it, the FedEx Cup. Not that he needs it, but he also walked away from the tournament a cool $15m better off. Before the tournament, McIlroy had questioned the new format. His views may have changed now after finishing four shots clear of Xander Schauffele and five ahead of third-round leader and world number one Brooks Koepka in Atlanta.
“I can honestly say that I didn’t think about the money once. To play like that alongside Brooks and win, it's awesome," said McIlroy. “It is really cool to put my name on this trophy for a second time. Any time you can do something that only Tiger has done, you’re doing something right. Once I saw I was in the final group with Brooks, it just took me back to Memphis a few weeks ago. I felt like I learned a few lessons that day. I wanted to right some of the wrongs that I made that Sunday in Memphis.”
“Sometimes I try to treat Sundays the same as a Thursday or Friday, and they’re not. I go into them maybe a little too relaxed. Brooks went out there in Memphis and shot 65 and just basically dominated the tournament, dominated me. And I realised if I want to become the dominant player in the world again, I need to be more like that. I guess that’s the ultimate compliment I can give Brooks is today I wanted to be a little bit more like him.”
McIlroy, who was beaten by Tiger Woods during the final round of the 2018 Tour Championship and outplayed by Koepka on the last day of the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis last month, added: "I didn't enjoy that walk last year like everyone else did, I played terribly. Going up against the number one player in the world today, he got one over on me in Memphis and I wanted to sort of try to get some revenge today. It's amazing how different things can be in a year."
Koepka had held a one-shot lead after a weather-delayed third round at East Lake, during which six people were injured after two lightning strikes. But he hit a double bogey on the seventh hole and carded three further bogeys on the back nine to finish in a tie for third with compatriot Justin Thomas. England's Paul Casey finished fifth on nine under par, while compatriot Tommy Fleetwood finished tied 16th on one under.
McIlroy started the tournament on five under par, five shots behind Thomas, who led the FedEx Cup standings going in to the season-ending Tour Championship. In a change to the rules for 2019, players entering the final event were awarded a starting score based on their FedEx Cup rank, which descended from -10 for the leader, down to level par for players ranked 26-30.
That meant McIlroy, who had concerns about the format, could have carded the lowest score of the week and still not won. But birdies on the last two holes ensured he also took that record, with a 13-under total, which was the best in the field by three shots.
McIlroy, who won the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship titles in 2016, was tied for second with American Schauffele on 14 under going into the final round and started, as did Koepka, with five straight pars. He made a birdie on the par-five sixth before taking advantage of Koepka's double bogey on the seventh, holing another birdie from 20 feet.
Two further birdies followed on the 12th and 13th to go four strokes clear and despite two bogeys, he all but sealed his 17th PGA Tour win on the penultimate hole. McIlroy, who missed the cut at The Open last month, added: "My goal today was to go and shoot the lowest score of the week. It's been such a cool way to end what has been for me a great season. To win three times in the same season is awesome. I feel like I could have won more but to win the FedEx Cup again, to keep giving myself chances even when I was getting knocked back, I'm very proud of myself and I'm going to enjoy this one."
Erik van Rooyen birdied the last to overcome Matthew Fitzpatrick in a thrilling final day battle to finally win his first European Tour title at the Scandinavian Invitation.
The South African had twice finished runner-up this season and entered the final day in Gothenburg with a one-shot lead. He was caught by Fitzpatrick and Henrik Stenson but led by two at the turn and stretched that lead to three on the back nine.
Fitzpatrick finished with two birdies in a 64 and when Van Rooyen bogeyed the 17th, the players were tied at 18 under. But the 29-year-old made a closing birdie from 15 feet on the par five last to match Fitzpatrick's 64 and get to 19 under.
Stenson thrilled the home fans with a hole-in-one at the sixth in a closing 66 that moved him to 14 under alongside South African Dean Burmester. Van Rooyen's victory moves him inside the top 10 in the Race to Dubai.
"I've been putting so well all day and to hole that one to win my first one is pretty cool,” he said. “I've gone close a bunch of times and every time I'm in contention the question gets asked. I'm just so proud of myself. I’m over the moon."
Stenson took advantage of the par five third and then produced the highlight of the week with his hole in one at the sixth sending the home crowd wild and moving him into a share of the lead. His seven iron from 185 yards was the 24th hole-in-one of the season and second of the week after Adam Bland at the tenth on Thursday.
Fitzpatrick made the most of the third from six feet to make it a three way tie and from there on it developed into a fascinating two horse race. Van Rooyen also birdied the hole to hold the lead on his own again, but a magnificent approach to two feet at the fourth from Fitzpatrick made it a tie once more
Van Rooyen holed a huge putt from the fringe on the fifth to edge himself back ahead and hit the eighth green in two to make another birdie. An excellent approach from Fitzpatrick set up a birdie at the ninth but Van Rooyen put his own approach to eight feet and holed the putt.
He led by three after another long putt at the tenth but Fitzpatrick birdied the 11th and holed a long putt at the 13th before the leader also made the most of the par three.
Fitzpatrick hit the pin with his approach at the 14th hit the pin and his ball rolled off the green, costing him a dropped shot, but be bounced back with a birdie at the next, dropped another shot on the 16th, and then holed a huge putt on the 17th before finding the green at the par five last in two.
Van Rooyen three putted the 17th to leave it tied at the top but he got up and down from just short of the last, holing that clutch putt to enter the winner's circle.
"I didn't put a foot wrong, I didn't really miss a shot," said Fitzpatrick, who has now been a runner up three times this season. "I hate to say it but I had no luck out there. I'm really comfortable with where my game is at, another second place so hopefully we'll have one better later this year."
Stenson picked up another shot on the eighth but came home in level par, while Burmester turned in 36 before making four birdies on the back nine. Welshman Jamie Donaldson, American Sihwan Kim, France's Alexander Levy, Australian Wade Ormsby and home favourite Sebastian Soderberg were 13 under.
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