Rory on a roll in FedEx Cup playoffs
CARMEL, Ind.—Rory McIlroy was right where he wanted to be, even if the kid was two weeks ahead of schedule.
Having disposed of a world-class field at Crooked Stick for a two-shot win that looked even easier, McIlroy sat next to the two trophies he won Sunday in the BMW Championship. One was from the tournament, one from the Western Golf Association, the longtime host of this storied event.
"Hopefully, in a couple weeks' time, I'll be sitting right here again with two trophies beside me," McIlroy said with a smile.
McIlroy and the rest of the PGA Tour takes a much-needed break this week before resuming at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, where McIlroy will try to cap off an already amazing season by winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, with its $10 million bonus.
There appears to be no stopping Boy Wonder.
Even against the very best in golf, McIlroy beat them with a 5-under 67 for a two-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood. That came just six days after he rallied against Louis Oosthuizen and held off Tiger Woods to win at the TPC Boston.
The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland now has won three of his last four tournaments, scoring a combined 53-under par.
"I just want to try and keep this run going and keep the confidence level up where it is," he said.
His confidence is about as high as that 4-iron from 233 yards that dropped from a blue sky over Indianapolis and landed softly on the par-5 ninth green, where so many other shots came in low and hot and bounded through the green. It set up a two-putt birdie, and a wedge into 5 feet for birdie on the 10th hole enabled him to start breaking away from a crowded collection of All-Stars.
There was a sense that moment it was over, because few others can hit shots like that right now. And if that wasn't enough, McIlroy hit another towering 4-iron, this one covering 226 yards, that landed just as softly on the horseshoe green at the par-5 15th to within 15 feet for another birdie. That was followed by another wedge to about the same distance, and he buried that birdie putt on the 16th to build a three-shot lead.
His only bogey Sunday in the final round came on the 18th hole.
"By that time, I had sort of done enough," McIlroy said.
By now, perhaps the rest of golf has seen enough. Along with becoming the first player since Woods in 2009 to win PGA Tour events in consecutive weeks, McIlroy established himself as the dominant player, something golf has been missing since Woods went astray three years ago.
"He's going out there and is up near the lead and posts a good number," Woods said. "He's doing the things he needs to do, and as he said yesterday, he's feeling very confident about his game. Right now he's just really played well, and he's making a ton of putts. That's a great combo."
Woods and McIlroy have been spending a lot of time together in the last month -- whether they're in the same group on the golf course, as they have been four times during the playoffs and will be again for the opening round of the Tour Championship; in TV interviews together; in the interview room, where one is behind a microphone and the other waiting his turn in the back of the room; or at lunch after the pro-am.
McIlroy remembers watching Woods rule the PGA Tour by winning six, seven, eight times a year. He's not there yet. He seems to be close.
"I think I've always had an appreciation for what Tiger did over the years," McIlroy said. "The more you put yourself in this position, and the more you win, and the more you pick up trophies, it becomes normal, and it feels like this is what you're supposed to do. I'm sure that's how he felt when he was on that run, and how he still feels. He still won three times this year.
"I don't think I'm quite there yet," he said. "But I'm getting to that stage where I'm thinking, `This is what I should be doing. I should be lifting a trophy at the end of the week.' It's been great. The last four weeks, five weeks have been incredible, some of the best golf that I've ever played. I'm going to try and keep the run going for as long as possible."
Mickelson (70) and Westwood (69) gave him a decent run, and so did Dustin Johnson for a brief time.
Johnson chipped in for eagle on the ninth hole, creating a four-way tie with Mickelson, Westwood and McIlroy. Mickelson fell back with a wedge that just missed its mark and sailed over the 12th green, leading to bogey. Westwood tied McIlroy with a birdie on the 13th, only for questions about his chipping to resurface when he couldn't handle tough lies on the 14th (bogey) and 15th (par).
"A lot of people stayed neutral and Rory geared ahead," Mickelson said.
Vijay Singh went backward. He was tied for the lead with Mickelson going into the final round and had thoughts of winning for the first time in four years. Three bogeys in an ugly stretch of four holes led to a 73, and the Fijian didn't even qualify for the Tour Championship.
Only the top 30 from the 70-man field advanced to the FedEx Cup finale. Bill Haas shot a 78 and missed out by one shot. John Senden shot a 42 on the back nine, finishing with a double bogey, but managed to get in. So did Ryan Moore, who had a 70.
McIlroy, meanwhile, has shifted into new territory. He built a three-point lead in the world ranking, making it unlikely anyone can catch him the rest of the year. And after beating such a strong field, he moved into elite company. McIlroy, with his sixth career win, joined Woods (15) and Jack Nicklaus (8) as the only players since 1960 to win at least six times on the PGA Tour at age 23. McIlroy doesn't turn 24 until May.
He was not surprised by the win. After going to the range Saturday evening to match up his swing with how quickly his hips turn, McIlroy brought that to the golf course and missed only one fairway.
Plus, he is getting used to this business of winning. The eight-shot win at Kiawah Island in the PGA Championship. Winning the
"I'm confident in my ability and confident with the shots that I'm hitting and confident on the greens," McIlroy said. "I'm making the right decisions out there, and everything is really just going to plan at the minute."