Saturday 21 April 2018

McIlroy commits to playing in FedEx Cup Playoffs in bid to end winless streak


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, waves on the 15th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, waves on the 15th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Quail Hollow Club. Photo: AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy is not prepared to go winless for the first time since 2008 and jets off to New York tomorrow hoping to play all four FedEx Cup Playoffs events after all.

The Co Down man (28) hinted at Quail Hollow last Sunday that he was giving serious consideration to taking the rest of the year off to allow his niggling rib injury to heal completely.

"You might not see me until next year, you might see me in a couple of weeks' time," McIlroy said in Charlotte. "It really depends... the more I play, it's just not allowing that time to heal 100pc."

But after flying back to Northern Ireland this week and consulting with his fitness advisor Dr Steve McGregor, the Irish Independent understands that he is determined to play all four play-off events.

The move is a bold one by the four-time Major winner, who lost his world No 1 ranking in September 2015 and has gone three years without adding to his Major haul.

He has described his season as transitional following his marriage to American Erica Stoll in April and his decision to sign a $100m equipment and golf ball deal with TaylorMade after his apparel provider Nike exited the golf equipment market last year.

Two of McIlroy's last three seasons have been hit by injury and with Dustin Johnson and twentysomethings Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas emerging as Major winners and Jon Rahm bursting on to the scene since McIlroy captured the 2014 US PGA, getting back to world No 1 will be a major task.

He had hoped to turn his season around at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the US PGA at Quail Hollow - two venues where he had racked up three wins and eight top-10s in 13 appearances.

But after finishing tied fifth, nine shots behind Hideki Matsuyama in Akron and tied 22nd, nine shots behind Thomas in Charlotte last Sunday, his decision to suit up and chase the $10m (€8.5m) FedEx Cup jackpot shows his determination to end the season with at least one win and regain his status as golf's top dog.

"There's been decent results in there, but decent results right now isn't good enough," McIlroy said in Akron when asked about his stop-start season. "I'm expected to win, I expect more of myself also."

Close pal Harry Diamond will remain on the bag again in The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks Club and throughout the FedEx Cup series.

"He's made over $50,000, so he's doing all right", McIlroy joked when asked how Diamond had done on the bag so far.

McIlroy has been forced to miss six events this season after picking up a stress fracture of the ribs in January.

As a result, he has fallen from second to fourth in the world behind Johnson, Matsuyama and Spieth.

If the Official World Ranking were calculated on this season's results alone, McIlroy would be 23rd having missed three cuts and claimed just one top-three finish from his 13 starts.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport