Wednesday 18 September 2019

Late flurry has McIlroy within striking distance

Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 18th tee. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the 18th tee. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy produced a miraculous closing birdie to keep the $15 million FedEx Cup bonus in his sights at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The Co Down man cut a spectacular, 242-yard fairway wood from deep in the trees to an island of rough short of the 18th, then pitched to three feet before tapping for a three-under 67.

His birdie-birdie finish left him tied for second with Justin Thomas, who shot 68, just a shot behind world No 1 Brooks Koepka, who topped McIlroy's closing effort by rifling a 244-yard approach to eight feet and two putting for a second successive 67 and the lead on 13-under

He started the day one shot behind Thomas, Koepka and Xander Schauffele on nine-under-par and struggled to get going, dropping a shot at the first.

Even after getting back to level for the day with a birdie four at the sixth, he was four strokes behind Koepka and playing partner Thomas through eight holes.

An 88-minute weather delay stopped him on the 10th but he came back and rolled in 10 footer at 12th and a 15 footer at the 17th before producing that brave recovery at the last.

Seamus Power's hopes of winning back his PGA Tour card are hanging by a thread after he missed his second cut in a row in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

The West Waterford man needs to finish in the top-25 in a mini-money list comprising three playoff events on the second-tier US Tour to regain his full playing rights.

But after missing the cut in the opening event in Ohio last week, he remains pointless after a one-over 72 that left him outside the projected cut mark on level par in Idaho.

The top 25 in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals win PGA Tour cards and Power will likely need to big finish in next week's Korn Ferry Tour Championship in Indiana to save his season.

On the European Tour, Gavin Moynihan carded back-to-back rounds in the 60s for the first time since last December to go into the weekend just outside the top 10 in the European Tour's Scandinavian Invitation in Sweden.

The Mount Juliet pro followed a 69 with three-under 67 featuring five birdies to share 18th place at Hills Golf & Sports Club in Gothenburg on four-under.

He's seven strokes behind 2016 winner Matthew Fitzpatrick, who carded six birdies and a bogey in a 65 to lead by a shot from China's Wu Ashun and local hero Henrik Stenson, who shot 62, on 11-under.

Ranked ninth in the Race to Dubai and 30th in the world, Fitzpatrick has had three runner-up finishes worldwide since last year's Omega European Masters and he makes no secret of his ambition.

Paul Dunne's tie for 23rd in last week's Czech Masters proved to be a false dawn as he followed a 76 with a two-over 72 in blustery early conditions and missed the cut on eight-over with Michael Hoey two shots further back after a 78 yesterday.

It was far better for Sharvin in the Challenge Tour's Rolex Trophy at Golf Club de Genève, where he followed bogey-free rounds of 68 and 66 with another 68 to go into today's final round tied for fourth.

The Ardglass star is ninth in the Challenge Tour Rankings and with the top 15 at the end of the season clinching promotion to the European Tour, he's in position to make a move this week.

He sandwiched bogeys at the ninth and 10th between six birdies but still lies five strokes behind Portugal's Ricardo Santos on 14-under par. Santos shot an eight-under 64 to lead by four strokes from the Netherlands' Darius Van Driel and Scot Callum Hill, who is seeking his third win of the season and immediate promotion to the European Tour.

Irish Independent

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