Sport Golf

Monday 16 September 2019

McIlroy claims historic $15m FedEx Cup jackpot

Rory McIlroy celebrates with the FedEx Cup after his victory in Atlanta. Photo: USA Today Sports
Rory McIlroy celebrates with the FedEx Cup after his victory in Atlanta. Photo: USA Today Sports

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy melted iceman Brooks Koepka and closed in on his world No 1 crown when he claimed the Tour Championship and the $15 million FedEx Cup jackpot - the largest winner's cheque ever handed out in the history of the game.

The Holywood star went into the final round tied for second with Xander Schauffele on 14-under-par, a shot behind Koepka, after carding a 68 in his lightning-delayed third round.

Having begun the week five shots behind Justin Thomas and three behind Koepka under the new staggered system, he put in an impressive final round performance, closing with a four-under 66 to win by four shots from Schauffele (70) and by five from Koepka and Justin Thomas on 18-under par.

Having been critical of the format on Wednesday, McIlroy insisted last night that he treated the event like a normal week.

"I tried to imagine everyone was staring at even par and tried to win the tournament," he said. "I was able to do that, I was playing my own tournament inside my head and that's the way I approached it."

The win took McIlroy's earnings on the PGA Tour this year beyond $24m - $7.78m in regular-season money, $1.5 for finishing second in Wyndham Rewards Top 10 and $15m for his second FedEx Cup win in four years. Afterwards, however, he said that money never entered his mind.

"Money 100 per cent did not come into my mind," he added. "I wanted to win the tournament, I wanted to win the tournament and beat the No 1 player in the world (Koepka).

"He got one over me in Memphis and I wanted to get him back."

Koepka outscored McIlroy that Sunday at the St Jude Invitational in Memphis by six shots in the final round to beat him by five but this time around it was McIlroy who produced the goods under pressure, turning for home a shot ahead of Koepka by following a birdie at the sixth with another from 23 feet at the seventh where the out-of-sorts Floridian lost a ball in the woods and ran up a double-bogey six.

McIlroy then turned the screw further with birdies from three feet and 10 feet at the 12th and 13th totally unnerving Koepka, who would miss two short putts for par.

Promptly

Having raced four clear of Schauffele and five ahead of Koepka with five to play, McIlroy promptly bogeyed the 14th and 15th to see his lead halved but made a key nine footer for par at the 16th and a 16 footer for birdie at the 17th before closing with another birdie from six feet at the 18th

On the European Tour, Gavin Moynihan missed a golden opportunity to take giant step towards retaining his card at the Scandinavian Invitation in Gothenburg.

A brilliant 64 on Saturday left him tied for fifth, just three strokes off the lead.

But while a top-three finish would have catapulted him into the all important top 110 in the Race to Dubai, he carded a disappointing four-over 74 to finish tied 47th behind maiden winner Erik Van Rooyen and moved up just three spots to 153rd.

He will have another chance to improve this week when he joins McIlroy, Paul Dunne and Pádraig Harrington in the Omega European Masters in Crans.

And South African Van Rooyen will tee it up in the Alps as a European Tour winner after he made a 15 footer for birdie at the 18th to match Matthew Fitzpatrick's 64 and win by a shot on 19-under-par.

Meanwhile, Moynihan's former Walker Cup teammate Cormac Sharvin moved closer to winning his card with a runner-up finish in the Challenge Tour's Rolex Trophy on Saturday.

One of five Irishmen on the winning Great Britain and Ireland team in 2015, Sharvin closed with a six-under 64 to finish just one shot behind the Netherlands' Darius van Driel to move from ninth to sixth in the race for 15 European Tour cards.

Irish Independent

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