Rory McIlroythe strongest voice for that PGA Tour In a turbulent year, he had the final say with his clubs on Sunday as he recovered from six strokes down to win Tour Championship and conquer the FedEx Cup for the third time.
McIlroy won $18 million, taking his PGA Tour earnings for the season to over $26 million. He finished with a 4-under 66, passing Masters Champion Scottie Scheffler, who only birdied in a 73.
Scheffler hoped to crown the best golf year with the FedEx Cup title. Instead, his entry in the record book set a PGA Tour record for losing the largest 54-hole margin. The last time Dustin Johnson did that was in 2017 at the HSBC Champions.
Sungjae Im fell behind with a double bogey on the 14th hole and still managed a 66 to share second place with Scheffler.
McIlroy called the final round a “spectacle,” and not just because of the pro-McIlroy crowd chanting his name along the final holes.
“Two of the best players in the world are going head-to-head to win the PGA Tour’s biggest prize and I hope everyone enjoyed it at home,” he said.
McIlroy needed a lot of help from seeded No. 1 Scheffler, who started two shots ahead and was never behind until the 70th hole. Scheffler, who birded four of six holes Sunday morning to end the third round and build a six-shot lead, lost it in the first seven holes.
And then it was a thrill to the end, a stunning afternoon in East Lake spinning two shots.
McIlroy potted a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole to tie the lead. After overflying the green by about 20 yards on the 16th, his throw ran fast and went off the front of the green when he hit the pin and settled 7 feet away.
He saved par. Scheffler blasted out of a bunker to just under 10 feet and missed, making a bogey that set him back for the first time all week. Scheffler misjudged a 10-foot birdie chance of a tie on the 17th, sending the Tour championship to the final hole with $18 million at stake.
Scheffler’s 4-iron on the par-5 18 sailed short and right into a bunker and shot across the green. McIlroy went left against the stands, took relief and came onto the green for an easy par.
Scheffler and Im each won $5.75 million.
“The money definitely didn’t cross my mind. I wanted to win the title of the season,” said Scheffler. “I’ve had a really great year and I wanted to end it with a win here, but unfortunately I couldn’t.”
McIlroy won the 2016 FedEx Cup in a playoff. In 2019, he won the FedEx Cup again, the first year with a staggered start. But this was perhaps the sweetest fall after a year that saw the PGA Tour locked in a nasty battle with Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf, which has already attracted around two dozen players and is now part of an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Trip.
It was McIlroy who has declared a deep loyalty to the PGA Tour in recent years as competing leagues came into view. And it was McIlroy, along with Tiger Woods, who chaired a momentous players-only gathering last week that led to significant changes for the Tour.
So, yes, that had an extra level of satisfaction.
“I believe in the game of golf. I believe in this tour in particular. I believe in the players on this tour,” said McIlroy at the trophy presentation. “It’s the greatest place in the world to play golf, without exception, and I’ve played everywhere.”
Even at the Tour championship, which is usually an end-of-year celebration, there was talk all weekend of more defections in the coming days. The Daily Telegraph reported three weeks ago that British Open champion Cameron Smith was leaving for LIV Golf and renewed reports over the weekend confirmed this.
Two people aware of the movements said Marc Leishman, Harold Varner III and Anirban Lahiri leaving. They spoke on condition of anonymity as this was not announced. Cameron Tringale announced his decision on Twitter.
Still to be determined Joaquin Niemannwhose manager said the Chilean would discuss options with his father later on Sunday.
“Everyone on the tour had a lot to deal with. Even the guys who went to LIV had a lot to deal with. It was just a very turbulent era in our game,” said McIlroy. “This is the best place in the world to play golf. It’s the most competitive. It has the best players. It has the deepest fields. I don’t know why you would want to play anywhere else.”
With all that speculation, what looked like a runaway Tour championship turned into a dynamic show. Most of that went to Scheffler, who looked like a different player on his return on Sunday morning and after a two-hour break before the final round.
He got nothing going and let four others into the game. Scheffler usually only hit nine out of 18 greens.
McIlroy took the opportunity early with three straight birdies, the last from 30 feet at No. 7, prompting cheers from corporate hospitality tents across the course.
Scheffler fought back and showed amazing courage without the game being part of it. He had three big par saves early on the back nine and took the lead for the last time when McIlroy missed the 14th green with a short iron off the fairway and bogeyed.
McIlroy started the tournament six shots down as the No. 7 seed. He opened from an out of bounds tee shot for a triple bogey and after another bogey he was 10 behind before Scheffler even started. And in the end, the biggest voice on tour had her biggest trophy.
Associated Press reporting.
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