Sunday 18 March 2018

Rory McIlroy: Winning $11.22m doesn't mean much to me any more

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

James Corrigan

Rory McIlroy did himself no favours when saying last night that the $11.22  million he could win in Atlanta this week “luckily, doesn’t sort of mean that much to me any more”. But do not devalue his competitive spirit.

There is no price McIlroy would put on restating his dominance at the Tour Championship, the grand PGA Tour finale. Despite winning three tournaments, more than £4 million in prize money, being the world No 2 and still having the chance with the FedEx Cup jackpot, McIlroy still feels rather indifferent to 2015.

Such are the standards the Ulster­man sets himself, that despite the injury he sustained two weeks before the Open, which ultimately cost him six weeks of competition, he will not allow himself an easy ride into 2016, regardless of the £30 million-plus he earns per annum in endorsements.

McIlroy wants his campaign to climax on a high and to remind ­Jason Day and Jordan Spieth who they are competing with for all those “best” accolades.

McIlroy remains clearly frus­trated at the turn of events that resulted in him turning his ankle in a friendly kickabout with friends in the weeks before he defended his Claret Jug and Wanamaker Trophy. Yet, among all his other attributes, ­McIlroy is blessed with the ability to disguise his angst with mirth.

When asked at East Lake, the scene of the Tour Championship this week, what he had learnt from this year, “don’t play football in the middle of the season”. was his reply. Of course, McIlroy will not stop ­being who he is; he has pledged to carry on enjoying his life regardless of the risks. Yet it is undoubtedly true that his ego has been spiked by the progression of Spieth and Day.

Spieth, of course, won back-to-back majors at the Masters and US Open, but is remarkably being challenged for the title of “player of the year” by Day, who won the US  PGA Championship in record style and has then proceeded to win two of the three FedEx events that have led to this 30-man (29 since the withdrawal) shootout for the biggest prize in golf.

For McIlroy it is simple. The world No 1 is the world No 1 and he told Day – who took hold of the moniker on Sunday – as much when he saw him yesterday. “I said really enjoy it, because I remember when I was able to get to No 1 [in 2012],” he said “It’s a cool, knowing that you have to win to do it. And it’s deserved. Jason’s the best player in the world right now. Nobody can argue with that. There’s a lot of guys who are going to make it tough for him to stay there.”

How McIlroy would love to win his first FedEx Cup. He is just outside the top 10 in the standings, alongside England’s Justin Rose, and aware that he very probably has to win this week to scoop the spoils. For his part, Day will simply try to stay on his roll.

“It’s pretty cool to be the best player on the planet,” Day said. “But I understand that to be the best you have to win consistently; I remember in 2011 when I had the chance to win [the $10 million] on the back nine and I choked. and I will not be thinking about the money again.”

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport