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Up-and-down Rory McIlroy finishes season on a high

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Rory McIlroy: Three-under-par final round at East Lake

Rory McIlroy: Three-under-par final round at East Lake

Rory McIlroy: Three-under-par final round at East Lake

Rory McIlroy signed off on his PGA Tour season with a birdie on his final hole to cap a typically up-and-down round at the Tour Championship at East Lake.

The Co Down man stormed out of the blocks with a birdie on the par-four first hole but his early momentum was soon checked by a bogey on the par-four third.

An eagle on the par-five sixth was then followed by a double-bogey at the seventh hole but a birdie on the eighth hole at least saw him make the turn a shot to the good.

He got a handle on his inconsistency on the back nine at least, racking up seven pars to go with a stunning birdie on the par-three 11th and a four on the par-five 18th to card a three-under final round which saw him finish in the middle of the 29-man field (tied 14th) on seven-under par.

Reflecting on his season, McIlroy admitted it had been a mixed bag.

“Some good. Some bad. It started – it started OK,” he said.

“I got some decent results at the start of the year but it never felt really comfortable. And then there was that transition period when I started working on some new stuff. I struggled a bit in the springtime, but after that it got pretty good.

“Yeah, I guess I didn’t feel like my game was consistent at the start of the year, in the middle of the year, it’s certainly more consistent than it has been which is good. I still feel like I have a few things to work on. Overall I feel like it’s been a work-in-progress from April onwards, but I think it’s been going in the right direction.”

Patrick Cantlay held his nerve to claim the FedEx Cup title and the $15 million (€12.6m) windfall for top spot.

The American carded a one-under 69 for a 21-under total to finish one shot clear of world No 1 Jon Rahm, who carded a two-under 68.

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McIlroy, meanwhile, will take some time away from the course to spend time with his family before his Ryder Cup preparations ramp up.

“I’ll spend two weeks at home. First week I’ll relax. It’s been – this is like eight out of 10 weeks and it’s been Europe, Japan, back here, a lot of travel, a lot of time without the family.

“So I’ll go home and be a husband and a dad for a week, and then I’ll start to ramp it back up and get prepared for going up to Wisconsin.”

Earlier, Joaquin Niemann set a new Tour Championship record at East Lake as he raced round the course in just one hour and 53 minutes as he carded a 72 playing on his own.

Niemann carded a two-over-par round to finish four-over par for the week in 29th place, with Brooks Koepka withdrawing in round three due to injury.

The round breaks the previous PGA Tour record set by Kevin Na in the final round of the Tour Championship in 1 hour 59 minutes.

Niemann was behind Na’s record on the front nine but he picked up the pace coming home to break the record.

The Chilean’s round saw him double-bogey the par-four eighth to go out in 37 shots, and he then exchanged a birdie at the par-three 15th with a bogey at the par-four 16th.


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