American Jim Furyk has described Rory McIlroy as “a marked man” with just over a week to go to the Ryder Cup.
The 23-year-old Ulsterman has the chance to make himself £7million richer this week by winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta and with it the FedEx Cup play-offs — just as Furyk did two years ago.
“He won the PGA by a ton of shots, won his last two events and no matter how he plays here he's right now the present day Tiger Woods where everyone's eyes are on him,” Furyk said.
“Tiger is still Tiger — everyone would love to see that pairing in the Ryder Cup — but obviously he (McIlroy) is a marked man.
“He's the number one player in the world. He's going to garner all the attention, as well he should. He's played phenomenal this year.
“It's hard to imagine Rory not being in contention this week, as well as he's been playing.
“I think all we can do is really worry about our game and try to get ourselves in position to try to win a golf tournament.”
Only 30 players are in the field at East Lake, including all 12 of the American Ryder Cup side and European team members Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia in addition to McIlroy.
As winner of the second and third legs of the play-offs, McIlroy could even finish as low as 29th on Sunday and still take the £6million FedEx bonus, but the points system is also such that he will miss out on that if Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson or Brandt Snedeker win the tournament.
Furyk came from 11th on the standings in the final week to pip Donald to the jackpot, but it was the Englishman who was celebrating at the end of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor a week later.
“The Ryder Cup is a different animal,” added Furyk, a wild card pick by United States captain Davis Love this time.
“We'll have some team dinners, the big gala — you're more on someone else's schedule that week rather than your own.
“But I've been involved in a lot of them. I know what is expected of me.
“I know how to pace myself. I made all the rookie mistakes the first couple and was kind of worn out by Friday — I'll make sure that's not going to be the case and try to help some of the young guys along as well.”