Rory - a prince in waiting
By Neville Leck Last updated: 10th September 2012
When Rory McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship, I wondered in my preview whether he could keep his magnificent momentum going and come out the winner again on this Sunday just past.
This remembering that he was pitted against an elite, limited field that included most of the world's finest golfers, including seasoned back-in-form stars Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the world Nos 1 and 2 golfers for most of the past decade.
Well, the 23-year-old not only won the BMW Championship at Pete Dye's Crooked Stick in Indiana on Sunday to make it three victories in his last four tournaments, added to last week's second-leg FedExCup triumph in the Deutsche Bank and to his second major win at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in early August, but he actually made it look all so easy - much in the way that the Tiger used to do at the peak of his powers
R-Mac made it look so easy, in fact, that he had Johnny Miller and the rest of the TV commentators raving about him being golf's latest "real deal".
And real deal he is, especially when he's in the kind of form that he has been in for the past few weeks; when, from tee to green he has seemed to have every shot in the book - and equally as important, the supreme confidence that goes with knowing you are hitting the ball as well as anyone ever has.
The Northern Irish icon certainly seemed to have worked on this year's sometimes suspect swing, for he hardly missed a beat on Sunday - he failed to find only one fairway with his booming 300 yard-plus drive and on the rare occasion he missed the green with his trusty irons, his solid putter always saved the day as he coolly and calmly manufactured a near faultless five-under 67 to win by two shots from his British compatriot and playing partner, Lee Westwood, and from a happy, smiling overnight leader Mickelson who, ominously as next month's Ryder Cup approaches, is looking a lot more like his old self.
This latest victory makes McIlroy the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to triumph in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour, and with this, his sixth career win in the USA, he joins Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to have won that many times by the age of 23.
But perhaps what is doing more to make him golf's most dominant player right now is the mindset he hinted at in his post-event interviews.
"The more you put yourself in this position, and the more you win and the more you pick up trophies, the more it becomes normal and then it feels like this is what you're supposed to do," is one of the telling things he said.
"I don't think I'm quite there yet," McIlroy added "but I'm getting to that stage where I'm thinking, 'This is what I should be doing. I should be lifting a trophy at the end of the week.' It's been great. The last four, five weeks have been incredible, some of the best golf that I've ever played. I'm going to try and keep the run going for as long as possible."
Certainly he bestrode Crooked Stick in regal style, looking every bit like a prince in waiting as he took his points tally in the FedExCup play-off standings to a whopping 7,299 against second-placed Tiger's 4,067, fellow American Nick Watney's 3,586, Mickelson's 3,420, Brandt Snedeker's 3,357 and fifth-place Louis Oosthuizen's 3.167 points.
If the points situation was not going to be reset for the FedExCup finale at Eastlake Golf Club in two weeks time, the 2,500 points up for grabs to the winner of the 30 finalists who have qualified would clearly not have been sufficient to stop McIlroy winning the $10m Playoff bonanza, regardless of how he finished at Eastlake.
But to prevent this type of damp-squib finish, the PGA Tour have purposefully installed a system that resets the point position for the Eastlake finale that will give each and every one of the 30 players who have qualified a mathematical shot at winning the $10 million bonanza.
McIlroy's points tally will go to 2 500, Woods to 2,250, Watney to 2,000, Mickelson to 1,800 and so on down to Scott Piercy who in 30th and last place has been awarded 210 points.
McIlroy's prize money of $1.44 million at the Deutsche Bank has hoisted his Tour earning this year to $7.8 million, will almost certainly give him the Tour money winners title for 2012 and get him voted in as player of the year by his Tour peers.
But with a host of the world's best players breathing down his neck thanks to the reset-points situation, he still has some work to do at Eastlake in two weeks time to take home this year's highly prized FedEx Cup spoils.
At any other time, I would been very hesitant to give anyone, be it Woods, Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan or Sam Snead, any chance of taking on the huge odds of winning three straight, back-to-back legs in a contest like the FedEx Playoffs.
But right now I wouldn't put it past McIlroy - if he manages to keep his mind on the job and doesn't go off gallivanting again with his new flame as he too often seemed to do during, what, for the huge talent that he is, was a pretty sterile run in mid-year.
FEDEX CUP STANDINGS
Here are the FedEx Cup standings after the points position was reset for the up-coming Tour Championship finale in two weeks time:
1 - Rory McIlroy 2,500
2 - Tiger Woods 2,250
3 - Nick Watney 2,000
4 - Phil Mickelson 1,800
5 - Brandt Snedeker 1,600
6 - Louis Oosthuizen 1,400
7 - Dustin Johnson 1,200
8 - Lee Westwood 1,000
9 - Zach Johnson 800
10 - Jason Dufner 600
11 - Bubba Watson 480
12 - Sergio Garcia 460
13 - Steve Stricker 440
14 - Keegan Bradley 420
15 - Luke Donald 400
16 - Matt Kuchar 380
17 - Carl Pettersson 360
18 - Jim Furyk 340
19 - Bo Van Pelt 320
20 - Robert Garrigus 310
21 - Adam Scott 300
22 - Ernie Els 290
23 - Hunter Mahan 280
24 - Justin Rose 270
25 - Webb Simpson 260
26 - John Huh 250
27 - Rickie Fowler 240
28 - Ryan Moore 230
29 - John Senden 220
30 - Scott Piercy 210
Ian Botham, Allan Lamb, Mark Boucher and company in action at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Go to Gallery
A pictorial of the fourth round of the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. Go to Gallery
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Neville Leck Blog
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