Sport Golf

Thursday 19 September 2019

McIlroy: FedEx riches not delivering right message

McIlroy has won $48.7m on the PGA Tour alone since 2010, not including bonus money such as the $10m he banked for winning the FedEx Cup in 2016. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
McIlroy has won $48.7m on the PGA Tour alone since 2010, not including bonus money such as the $10m he banked for winning the FedEx Cup in 2016. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy fears that the race for the $15 million FedEx Cup mega jackpot could prove a mega turn-off for fans.

The world No 3, who goes into the handicapped Tour Championship finale five shots behind leader Justin Thomas, has major doubts about the attraction for fans of the massive cash-grab at East Lake.

While he wants to end a disappointing season in the Majors with a third PGA Tour win, the reigning Players champion is aware that the focus on the $15m (€13.5m) could be a negative for fans who might see it as "rich players getting richer".

"Yeah, it's definitely a thought that came into my head," McIlroy admitted.

"The money is nice... but I don't think it needs to be front and centre. I don't think that's what the fans care about."

He added: "How can we make ourselves more relatable to the fans? Having $15m (publicised) probably isn't the best way."

McIlroy has won $48.7m on the PGA Tour alone since 2010, not including bonus money such as the $10m he banked for winning the FedEx Cup in 2016. But as a player who covets Major victories above all, he wonders about the essence of the FedEx Cup itself.

"If the FedEx Cup wants to create a legacy that lasts longer, it doesn't need to be about the money," McIlroy said. "It should be about the prestige of winning an event that you'll be remembered for."

The absence of Masters winner Tiger Woods and Open champion Shane Lowry has not gone unnoticed and left the impression that there's gold but little lustre attached to the FedEx Cup.

"Who knows what the winner gets at the Masters? I don't know, because that's not what it's about," said McIlroy (left), who has won twice this year and racked up 13 top-10 finishes.

Thomas starts on 10-under par with second-ranked Patrick Cantlay eight-under, PGA champion Brooks Koepka seven-under, Patrick Reed six-under and McIlroy five-under.

The rest of the field is staggered by one stroke per group of five, leaving the players ranked 26th to 30th 10 shots adrift on even-par.

But as McIlroy plays for mega bucks in Atlanta, Seamus Power is chasing much-needed points in the second of three events at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in his battle to win back his PGA Tour card.

The West Waterford man missed the cut in last week's opening event in Ohio and now needs a big week in Albertsons Boise Open in Idaho to challenge for one of 25 cards at next week's Korn Ferry Tour Championship finale.

They are playing for just €24,000 in the Irish PGA at Bunclody Golf and Fishing Club, but Carlow Golf Club's Damien McGrane has set his sights on his second title (and €3,600) after a blistering homeward nine gave him a four-stroke lead heading into today's final round.

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