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September 12 2012

8:26 PM

High on McIlroy's chances at East Lake

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Rory McIlroy ranks first in birdie average, first in scoring average and fifth in all-around on the PGA TOUR.
By Bill Cooney, PGATOUR.COM Rory McIlroy is putting together quite a September. Quite a summer, actually. So perhaps it's no surprise that some of the leading golf analysts expect more success from McIlroy next week at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola -- the final leg of the FedExCup Playoffs where $10 million is on the line. While East Lake Golf Club isn't necessarily considered a bomber's paradise -- it tests all facets of one's game -- the long-hitting McIlroy might just be the favorite next week. "I think the way he’s driving it, I think every golf course on the planet sets up well for him," NBC's Roger Maltbie said on Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. McIlroy has won four times on the PGA TOUR this season, including three of his past four events. He enters the TOUR Championship ranked No. 1 in reset FedExCup points, meaning he controls his own destiny with a victory. Both NBC analyst Johnny Miller and Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee said McIlroy's ability to win despite playing with less than his best shows how good he really is. "Everything favors Rory," Miller said. "He won the last two events with his 'C' game on two out of four days and the only guy who ever used to do that was Tiger (Woods). That’s a big advantage when you can have two off-days and still win tournaments against the best players – that’s a pretty comforting thing." McIlroy, sixth in driving distance, also ranks second on TOUR in approaches from 200-225 yards and fourth from 175-200 yards. "His driver and long-iron combination is the biggest weapon in golf," Chamblee said. "His ability to hit those sky-high irons -- it separated Jack, it separated Tiger and it’s separating Rory." McIlroy will appear on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show tonight, which airs at 12:35 a.m. ET on NBC. NBC and Golf Channel will have 23 hours of tournament coverage during the TOUR Championship.
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