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Rory takes rough with smooth as Snedeker’s success

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Rory McIlroy hits from the tee box on the 13th hole during the final round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta. Photo: AP

Rory McIlroy hits from the tee box on the 13th hole during the final round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta. Photo: AP

Rory McIlroy hits from the tee box on the 13th hole during the final round of play in the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta. Photo: AP

THERE were no complaints or tantrums from Rory McIlroy. Instead, he showed he knows how to lose with good grace.

McIlroy (23) extended hearty congratulations to Brandt Snedeker, saying he "really deserved to win" the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. He chided himself for hitting only 23 of 56 fairways all week at East Lake, including just three on Sunday, then joked: "So I'm glad Davis Love has told them to cut the rough at Medinah."

Yet McIlroy's magnanimity should not obscure a patent flaw with the FedEx Cup points system, which failed to give him full credit due for brilliant back-to-back wins at the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships.

Snedeker (31) performed brilliantly in Atlanta to claim the $1.44m first prize at the Tour Championship.

Should we not be disturbed, however, to see a guy who won twice and posted five top-10s claim the PGA Tour's top honour and a $10m bonus cheque when the man in second, McIlroy, registered four victories -- including two in the FedEx Cup play-offs -- and nine other top-10s?

Under a system devised to keep the FedEx Cup race alive through the Tour Championship, the points were recast before Atlanta, cutting McIlroy's unassailable lead to a mere trifle entering the season finale.

It all harks back to 2008 when Vijay Singh won two FedEx Cup play-offs and just had to turn up in Atlanta, pop the FedEx Cup in the trunk and drive home. The new system is a marketing man's dream but sporting lunacy.

Forget about points for a minute and look at a more accurate arbiter of performance on Tour: scores against par. McIlroy was 42-under for his 16 rounds in the four season-ending play-offs. He finished five clear of Dustin Johnson (-37), six ahead of Tiger Woods (-36), while Snedeker was fourth (-35). No question, Snedeker won fair and square last Sunday under the current rules and adroitly dismissed a question about McIlroy winning two play-offs to his one by saying: "Life is all about timing!"

Yet one has to question a points system so much at odds with reality.

Still, McIlroy was well paid for his trouble, earning $3m for second place in the FedEx bonus pool and $200,000 in a tie for 10th in the Tour Championship. This boosted this year's earnings on the golf course to just over $11.4m and his career prize money worldwide in five years as a pro to nearly $25m.

To his credit, Snedeker found it mind-boggling to win $11.4m in just one weekend. "I'm not by any means a flashy guy. Of anybody, I know I do not need $11.4m. It's unbelievable, crazy like winning the lottery," said the Tennessee native, who won't even buy himself a new car.

"I've had a car four and a half years and it's got just 24,000 miles on it. So why do I need a new car? Mine is new. I never drive it." Instead, he looks forward to "seeing if we can make a difference and help out people in Nashville and Tennessee", and the birth next month of his second child.

Filling the horizon, however, is his first Ryder Cup. He endorsed his reputation as America's best putter in Atlanta and, more importantly, proved that he can win on the big stage.

McIlroy was one of the first to check in at Medinah, travelling to Chicago on Sunday night with his coach Michael Bannon. Captain Jose Maria Olazabal and three members of his team -- Paul Lawie, Francesco Molinari and rookie Nicolas Colsaerts -- arrived on the official flight from London yesterday, while the remainder of Europe's Ryder Cup clan travelled independently.

Medinah will suit McIlroy to a tee, or should we say off it. The deep Bermuda grass at East Lake was like steel wool alongside the one-and-a-quarter inch rough in Chicago.

And he can rely on the adrenalin which swills around every team room at the Ryder Cup to restore his stamina after six highly charged weeks since his win at the US PGA Championship.

Irish Independent