Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Rory McIlroy bang on course to be golf’s $10m man

Rory McIlroy won the BMW Championship by two shots

After three wins in his last four starts in America Rory McIlroy is entitled to his little “chill out” time in New York this week.

Winning streak: Rory McIlroy after his triumph at the BMW Championship and (below) Tiger Woods AFTER three wins in his last four starts in America Rory McIlroy is entitled to his little “chill out” time in New York this week.

But then it will be back to business next week in Atlanta, where the 23-year-old Northern Irishman now has a golden opportunity to land a jackpot worth $10m (over £7.15m).

Golf's undisputed world number one has already banked more than £2.7m in the past month — it works out at over £2,500 for each shot he has hit — but in money terms the big prize still lies ahead.

Having captured the second and third legs of the FedEx Cup play-offs McIlroy will head into the 30-man Tour Championship as firm favourite for the £6.25m bonus that goes to the winner of the four-tournament series.

And adding the event itself would earn him an additional £900,000 on the eve of the Ryder Cup in Chicago.

McIlroy now has six victories in the United States to his name — the same number that Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros managed in their entire careers.

Four have come this season, the latest a two-stroke triumph over Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson at the BMW Championship in Indiana on Sunday night.

This week will mostly be about recharging his batteries, but he also has planned a training session with the New York Knicks basketball team.

“I'm making the right decisions out there and everything is really just going to plan at the minute,” McIlroy said.

Those decisions included simply playing at Crooked Stick.

“Some suggested that I could have taken a week off and still could have been in the top five in the FedEx Cup standings going into Atlanta.

“But I felt like I was playing really well and didn't want to stop. I sort of picked up where I left off in Boston.

“It's a nice run to be on and I want to try and keep it going for as long as possible.

“I'm confident in my ability and confident with the shots that I'm hitting and confident on the greens.”

Tiger Woods, third and fourth the past fortnight and up to second in the world as a result, commented: “He's doing the things that he needs to do.

“Right now he's just really playing well and he's making a ton of putts. That's a great combo.

“He's a great player, he's playing great and he's going to be tough to beat at East Lake. But we'll see — we've got 11 days or so to prepare.”

The FedEx Cup system means that the top five in the points standings — McIlroy, Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker — still go into the final play-off event knowing that a victory will make them the overall champion.

That seems slightly unfair on McIlroy, who actually built a lead of 3,232 points this weekend, but has had it slashed to 250 points to make the series climax more exciting.

All 30 qualifiers still have a chance and last year saw Bill Haas come from 25th to take both the tournament and the FedEx Cup.

McIlroy is one of six Europeans left in.

The others are Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Carl Pettersson.

Failing to make it into the 30, however, means two weeks off for Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter before the Ryder Cup, whereas American captain Davis Love will see all 12 of his side in action in Atlanta.

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