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 Northern Irishman has the chance to make himself ¤8.7million 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.”
Furyk relishes the fact that the biennial Ryder Cup competition will take place one week after the final event in the PGA Tour's regular season.
“I like the fact that they're back-to-back. I've always kind of played my best golf when I can play my way into shape,” said the 42-year-old, a
veteran of seven Ryder Cups.
“It's hard to take a bunch of time off and then go to an event and feel like you're sharp and ready to go. Playing in a big event this week, preparing and being ready here will only help.
“I might be a little tired early on in the week of the Ryder Cup but my game will be sharp. I'll get some rest and be ready.”
For the first time in his career, Furyk failed to qualify automatically for the Ryder Cup but says he feels no pressure to prove himself after being given one of four captain's picks by Davis Love III.
“I don't,” he added. “I feel like those selections were made not only by Davis and the assistants but the eight guys that have qualified for the team.
“I feel just as much a part of it. It's always nice to be maybe a little angry and go out there and play that way, but we've got far better things to worry about and a great team on the other side.”
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 finish as low as 29th on Sunday and still take the ¤7.5m 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 Donald
celebrating at the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor a week later.
“The Ryder Cup is a little different animal,” added Furyk. “But I've been involved in a lot of them. I know what is expected of me. I know how to manage my time.
“I made all of 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 for me and try to help some of the young guys.”