Rory rules the world

James Corrigan

AS if Rory McIlroy had to provide any more proof that he has it all, the world No1 did so anyway last night. In topping a phenomenal Deutsche Bank Championship leaderboard – which included Tiger Woods – the Ulsterman showed he has the heart and will as well as the art and skill.

In truth, he was helped by the South African Louis Oosthuizen, who could only match McIlroy’s bogey-par finish. But by then, perhaps McIlroy had earned the right to grind it out after overhauling his playing partner’s overnight

three-stroke advantage with four birdies in a sumptuous front nine.

McIlroy then had to fend off the red-shirted Woods playing in front of him. The 14-time major winner actually reduced the deficit to two at the turn, but he could not conjure the birdies on the stretch to trouble McIlroy, who shot a 67 for an outrageous 20-under total.

Despite a few miss-hits – a skied drive on the 15th which went all of 170 yards – McIlroy could peer down a scoreboard which featured Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in a tie for fourth and rightfully feel on top of the world. Together with last month’s USPGA Championship, he has beaten the game’s elite twice in his last three events.

“That was more survival on that last few holes,” said McIlroy with commendable honesty after watching Oosthuizen missing a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a play-off. “I didn’t finish off like, but I got there in the end. I’m very happy with my third win of the year which puts me in a great position for the next few weeks.

“Today was great, going out with a three-shot deficit. I just wanted to get off to a good solid start and maybe put Louis under a little bit of pressure.

“I was able to do that playing the first holes three under, and we both made a couple of mistakes on the fifth hole, but he made a six to my five, so I was able to take advantage of that a little bit.

“I think the good start set me up for a solid back nine. There was a couple of shots on the back nine I... well, I won’t take back now, but if I could have then, I would have.

“But I still managed to do enough, and as I said, delighted to get this win, delighted to go to number one in the FedEx Cup. It sets me up for a great next couple of weeks, so overall I’m just very pleased.”

Doesn’t it just. McIlroy now heads the FedEx Cup standings after two play-off events with a $10m (€7.93m) bonus on offer to the points-leader at The Tour Championship in two weeks’ time. This was McIlroy’s third PGA Tour win of the season, which matches Woods’s haul in 2012. The difference is, of course, that McIlroy has also won a major. Give him the Player of The Year Trophy now.

This was also another boost to Europe’s cause as the Ryder Cup approaches. Jose Maria Olazabal can declare with utmost certainty that he has world’s best in his team.

Davis Love will name the four wildcards today which will compete his side for Medinah. Steve Stricker is a lock and so – following his showing yesterday and his third at the Barclays the week before – should be Dustin Johnson. Which will leave Love with a choice of two from five.

Rickie Fowler shouldn’t really be a consideration, but such is the adoration for the young man in his homeland, he will be part of the conversation. His final-round 76, however, signalled a player out of form. He cannot justify a pick above Brandt Snedeker.


He finished fifth yesterday, after coming runner-up to Nick Watney at the Barclays. The latter hasn’t done too much else, other than win at Bethpage, while Snedeker has impressed all year. A great putter, Love surely cannot ignore him.

That would leave the final place between Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk. Furyk hasn’t won in almost two years but he is a big figure in the team-room and won all five of his points at last year’s Presidents Cup. Expect him to earn the nod – and Mahan to blub again.

Luke Donald will be in Chicago. Yesterday, after a 70 which saw him finish on five-under in a tie 26th, the Englishman felt obliged to apologise to the golf architect, Gil Hanse, who is designing the Rio Olympics course.

Donald was critical of Hanse’s redesign of the 18th green at the TPC in Boston and in a tweet meant as a personal message but which went out all his 300,000 plus-followers.

Hanse accepted the apology, with Donald vowing to take a break from the social network.