In Sunday's final round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Rory McIlroy hit his 138-yard approach shot to 5 feet and rolled in the birdie putt on the par-4 12th hole.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ATLANTA -- By the time he made the turn, Rory McIlroy knew he was essentially playing for second in the FedExCup.
Sure, he had won the last two Playoffs events. But on a day when McIlroy needed to win another to absolutely guarantee himself the $10 million bonus, he went out in 4 over and fell well off the pace.
McIlroy, who had started the final round in a tie for fourth, three shots behind Brandt Snedeker, ended up shooting 74 on Sunday and finishing nine off the pace. He didn't hit a fairway on the front nine and found just two on the back.
"I'm a little disappointed but at the same time, Brandt really deserves to win," McIlroy said. "If you look at his stats the whole way throughout the week, he played the best golf out of anyone. He knew what he needed to do. He needed to come in here and win. He controlled his own destiny just like I did, and he was able to come and do that. So because of that, he really deserves it."
McIlroy, who was competing in the FexExCup Playoffs for the first time in his career, said his mindset changed when he missed a 7-footer for birdie at the par-5 ninth hole. He played marginally better on the back nine, shooting even par with two birdies and two bogeys, but the damage had been done.
"Most of the back nine I was just trying to consolidate second
place, if I'm honest," the 23-year-old said. "I was still trying to
play well and trying to make a few birdies, but I didn't want to
try to force the issue and drop anymore spots. So I just tried to
hang on to that second position.
"I didn't even know on the last whether I needed that putt or not to stay in second place, but I holed it anyway, which was nice."
The round of 74 snapped a string of 11 consecutive rounds in the 60s for McIlroy, who has had a stellar summer. He won the PGA Championship by eight strokes, then captured the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship in consecutive weeks to bring his total for the year to four wins.
Even with an off week, though, sustaining that level of performance over the four weeks of the Playoffs isn’t easy.
"But I think that is the beauty of these Playoffs," McIlroy said. "You've got to treat it like a four- or five-week tournament. … But it's great. I think it adds excitement to the end of the year.”