Sport Golf

Sunday 18 August 2019

FedEx glory on McIlroy's mind as he tees it up in Medinah

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy wants to feed off the "good vibes" of the Miracle at Medinah and improve his chances of winning a second FedExCup next week.

The Co Down man goes into the BMW Championship at Medinah in Chicago ranked third in the standings behind Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed.

And another winning week at the course where his future wife, Erica, was the PGA of America official who organised the police escort that helped him avoid missing tee time at the 2012 Ryder Cup, could be required.

McIlroy's biggest concern is turning the most consistent season of his career into another FedExCup win. And with the new-look Playoffs more volatile than ever, he can improve his chances by going to the Tour Championship in Atlanta ranked number one in the standings.

Under the new FedExCup format, the leader heading to East Lake will start on 10-under par with the second-ranked player on eight-under and the rest of the field staggered accordingly with the players 26th to 30th on even par.

Pipped

After being pipped why Brandt Snedeker for the FedExCup in 2012 despite winning two Playoff events, and by Billy Horschel 2014 despite winning two Majors, he's keen to avoid a similar fate this year.

"It's another opportunity this week to climb a bit higher going into Atlanta," he said of the new format for next week's battle for the $15 million bonus.

"It's hard enough to win golf tournaments when you're all starting on a level playing field, but whenever it's staggered like that, it's a tough proposition.

"If someone like Brooks Koepka or Patrick Reed or whatever is starting two or three shots ahead of you, to spot guys of that calibre a few shots at the start of the week is pretty tough."

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, has decided to tee it up in Chicago despite withdrawing before the second round of the Northern Trust with a mild oblique strain.

He is now 38th in the standings and likely needs to finish 11th to make the top 30 who qualify East Lake.

Shane Lowry is vulnerable after falling from 20th to 25th at Liberty National, but can also make the top five in the standings with a win this week while 64th-ranked Graeme McDowell needs a big week.

Meanwhile, Castlerock has had tentative talks with the European Tour about hosting the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open in 2021.

While no venue has yet been announced for 2020, Tourism Northern Ireland is keen to find new venues with the North earmarked to host in 2021 and 2023.

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