McIlroy eyes FedExCup after ending title drought

Rory McIlroy holds the trophy after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship. He overcame a bad start to go 19-under par over the last 69 holes.
Rory McIlroy holds the trophy after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship. He overcame a bad start to go 19-under par over the last 69 holes.PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON • Crisis, what crisis? A special Monday afternoon of golf, the kind which sporadically separates Rory McIlroy from others, concluded with him winning the Deutsche Bank Championship on the outskirts of Boston.

This marked his first success of the year in the United States and, more pertinently, the perfect antidote to the dejection felt by the 27-year-old on missing the cut at the PGA Championship last month.

The Northern Irishman's closing six-under 65 meant a two-shot victory over Paul Casey, whom he had trailed by six strokes with 18 holes to play.

Even by McIlroy's standards, this was epic stuff. He had been four-over par three holes into the event. His winning score of 269 was 15 under.

He turned to Phil Kenyon for putting coaching after trouble on the greens in that early exit from Baltusrol. Victory in the second tournament since they teamed up means Kenyon has set quite a standard.

Suddenly McIlroy, whose previous win on the PGA Tour came at the Wells Fargo Championship in May last year, has wider glory in his sights.

"One of the things I would like on my golf CV is to win the FedExCup," he said after collecting a cheque for US$1.53 million (S$2.08 million) and going from 38th to fourth place in the standings for the lucrative post-season series. "The next two tournaments are huge for me, to try and do that.

"Three holes in, at four over par, there were a lot of things going through my mind and one of them was not winning this tournament. Here we are, 69 holes later and 19-under par for that spell.

"I am really proud of myself for battling that first day, getting some momentum on Saturday and just going with that.

"Hopefully this is momentum I can bring on to the next couple of weeks and ultimately the Ryder Cup to hopefully help Team Europe win. I'm really excited going into the last part of the season."

So he should be.

Final-round tee times at the Deutsche Bank were advanced to avoid the anticipated tail end of a hurricane. Conditions were seriously breezy.

What transpired for the former world No. 1, supposedly a player who struggles in gusts, was the perfect storm: he played the front nine holes in 31 - he reached the leaderboard's summit by the eighth hole - with a dropped shot on the 17th hole his only aberration of the round. His greenside bunker shot at the last, which triggered a birdie, was nerveless.

Casey, who was tentative all day, slipped to a two-over 73. Yet he was never completely without hope. Even on the 72nd green, he had a putt from 58 feet which would have forced a play-off if converted.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'McIlroy eyes FedExCup after ending title drought'. Print Edition | Subscribe