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Why Rory McIlroy's FedEx Cup standing is all-important as play-offs progress to BMW Championship

Rory McIlroy is down to third in the FedEx Cup standings with two tournaments to play.
Rory McIlroy is down to third in the FedEx Cup standings with two tournaments to play.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Rory McIlroy has slipped down the FedEx Cup standings after an an erratic final round at The Northern Trust tournament in New Jersey.

McIlroy carded seven birdies which would have been enough to come out one shot ahead of winner Patrick Reed, had it not been for the five drop shots.

Rory ended up tied for sixth, four shots behind winner Reed, who held his nerve to win with a final round 69 and scooped the $1,665,000 prize.

It's the Ryder Cup star's first tournament success since his 2018 Masters victory, as he finished one clear of Mexico's Abraham Ancer, with John Rahm in a tie for third alongside Harold Varner III a further shot back. It could have been so much better for the Irish Open winner, who dropped two shots in his final five holes.

So what does it mean for Rory's FedEx Cup standing?

Reed's victory helped the American leapfrog Rory in the FedEx Cup standings as he rocketed up from 50th to second due to the heavy weighting given to the play-off events. Reed only has four top 10 finishes to McIlroy's 13 this season, but the play-off system awards end-of-season form more than year-long consistency.

McIlroy drops to third, 310 points behind leader Brooks Koepka.

What happens now?

McIlroy heads to the BMW Championship in Chicago this week still in prime position to challenge for the FedEx Cup and the $15m prize on offer for the player who finishes top of the standings after the big one; the Tour Championship next week at East Lake.

Why are the positions so important going into the final two weeks?

McIlroy's performance this week will have direct consequences for the season climax at the Tour Championship. Going into the final event, the FedEx Cup leader will start at -10, second place -8, third -7, fourth -6, fifth -5, scaling down to even par for places 26-30.

While the top 70 have made it through to the BMW Championship this week, only the top 30 players in the standings progress to East Lake.

What did Rory have to say after Sunday at The Northern Trust?

"Too many bogeys," he told Sky Sports. "I made enough birdies, seven birdies today, but too many loose shots.

"I haven't really had it this week being in control of my irons and my wedges. So it was some good, some bad, some average and if I had better control of my ball, I could have shot some better rounds.

"It is frustrating to feel like your game is there and you are not getting it out. I'm still right there and I have to keep going.

"I said to my caddie that I need to pretend I have dropped a shot because I tend to hit a birdie on the next hole, but we go again next week and I just need to cut down on the dropped shots."

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