November 04, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Rory McIlroy wins in playoff at WGC-HSBC Champions
It was two for the price of one last week, as there were tournaments in China (World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions) and Bermuda (Bermuda Championship). Neither had ShotLink, but we’ll do the best we can to put the wins by Rory McIlroy and Brendon Todd into context.
1. RORY’S ROLLING: The World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions was McIlroy’s fourth win in his past 15 starts on the PGA TOUR. He also won THE PLAYERS, RBC Canadian Open and the TOUR Championship in that span.
Before winning this year’s PLAYERS, McIlroy had four wins in his previous 62 starts on TOUR. That dates back to his win at the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship.
"2017 and 2018, I had a couple injuries and went through changing equipment, as well, and there was just a couple of things. I was a little unsettled, I guess," McIlroy said Sunday. "But the last 18 months, I've been very settled. I've been comfortable with everything, my game, my equipment, my body's been healthy, or healthier. It's actually -- I struggled with some back problems in my early 20s, and knock-on-wood, my body feels as good as it ever has at 30."
McIlroy now has 18 PGA TOUR wins, fourth-most among active players. Only Tiger Woods (82), Phil Mickelson (44) and Dustin Johnson (20) have more.
2. SEVEN UP: McIlroy’s season started with a 2-over 72 in the first round of the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. He’s been unstoppable since then. He was 34 under in his next seven rounds, making 36 birdies and three eagles against just eight bogeys. His worst score in that span was 68 and his scoring average was 66.28.
“The four wins this year have been wonderful. THE PLAYERS Championship, Canadian Open, THE TOUR Championship to win the FedExCup, big events,” McIlroy said. “But more than that, I think it is the consistency that I'm bringing week-in, week-out. I'm able to -- even if I don't have my best stuff, at least give myself a chance. Even last week in Japan, finding something after a couple of days and go on to produce a high finish.”
McIlroy finished third in Japan despite digging himself an eight-stroke hole after the first round. With his win in China, he now has 16 top-10s in his past 21 starts on the PGA TOUR. He’s second in the FedExCup standings as he tries to become the first player to go back-to-back.
3. BRENDON’S BERMUDA COMEBACK: Todd’s comeback win in Bermuda was a popular win, and for good reason. He fought back from the depths of a deep slump to re-enter the winner’s circle. Todd made the TOUR Championship in 2014 on the strength of his win at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Then he missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016-18 and had to regain his card via the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.
Todd started the final round two strokes behind Harry Higgs, but shot a final-round 62, including seven consecutive birdies on the front nine. The 62 was Todd’s career-low round in his 500th round on TOUR. This was his 100th start since his Nelson win.
Todd was the fourth player this year to win with a score of 62 or lower in the final round. McIlroy (61, RBC Canadian Open), Xander Schauffele (62, Sentry Tournament of Champions) and J.T. Poston (62, Wyndham Championship) were the others.
Todd is the third winner in the ShotLink era to make seven consecutive birdies in the final round. Kevin Streelman (2014 Travelers) and Fabian Gomez (2016 Sony Open in Hawaii) also did it.
4. OUT OF THE ABYSS: How bleak were things for Todd from 2016 to 2018? He hit just 55.6% of his greens in that span. That was the second-worst on TOUR among players who played at least 1,000 holes. Only Steven Bowditch (53.7%) hit fewer greens.
Todd’s Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (-0.96) was fourth-worst on TOUR in that span and his Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green (-1.83) was the worst. Those rankings are among players who played at least 40 rounds from 2016 to 2018.