Rory McIlroy’s four major titles, thirty victories across four continents, and two years atop the world rankings were mostly forgotten this year. He is widely regarded as the PGA Tour’s most outspoken advocate and stalwart protector in the organization’s conflict with Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf.
The fact that McIlroy won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup on the final day of a turbulent season seems fitting. In the end, his clubs gave him the upper hand. McIlroy was six shots behind before the Tour Championship began and ten shots behind after the first two holes, but he came back to win the tournament by shooting a final-round 4-under 66 and won the FedEx Cup for the first time.
“The world of professional golf, and men’s golf, in particular, has been going through some rough times recently, he remarked. “I’ve been there in the middle of it all. I think I feel the need to defend what I consider to be the finest venue for professional golf every time I get it.
“To round up a year that has been so very difficult and different, it feels appropriate that I was able to get this done today. This was at the expense of world No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who fired a 66 in the third round after a storm delayed play on Sunday morning. Even after birdieing the last two holes in the morning to make the final group, McIlroy didn’t give himself a tremendous chance of winning.
However, after that, Scheffler never got back into his stride and began missing greens and par putts. With a final-round score of 73 and just one birdie, he tied the PGA Tour record for the most final-round deficit to be overcome.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 28, 2022
“I didn’t have the best start, but I worked as hard as I could from there on out,” Scheffler admitted. “Whatever the case may be, I wasn’t swinging as well as I had earlier in the week.
McIlroy’s raw score of 263 was 17 under, making it the best of the week. To win the $18 million prize, he needed to finish at least 21 strokes better than when he started at No. 7 and was 4 under par. Sungjae Im made a double bogey on the 14th hole, setting him back, but he still shot 66 and tied for second with Scheffler.
Even without the pro-McIlroy throng that chanted his name down the last holes, McIlroy called the final round a “spectacle.” Two of the greatest players of all time facing off on the greatest tour,” he remarked.
Because Scheffler was always in the lead up to the 70th hole, McIlroy relied heavily on his assistance. McIlroy took advantage of Scheffler’s early lack of composure. By making three consecutive birdies on the seventh hole, he equaled Scheffler. From from point on, it was a tense finish.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 29, 2022
Two shots determined the outcome of the spectacular show at East Lake. On the par-3 15th hole, McIlroy made a birdie putt from 30 feet out to share first place. His pitch was running fast and heading off the front of the green after he overshot the green by about 20 yards.
but luckily it hit the pin and settled about 7 feet away. A par was avoided. After blasting out of a bunker to within 10 feet, Scheffler missed the putt for a bogey and the first deficit of the tournament.
Scheffler poorly misjudged a birdie chance from 10 feet on the 17th to tie, sending the Tour Championship to the 18th and final hole with $18 million on the line. Scheffler hit a 4-iron short and straight into a bunker on the par-5 18th, sending his ball flying over the green. McIlroy took a breath of fresh air by taking a left against the grandstand, and he was soon on the green, putting for a comfortable par.
“I was shooting for the championship,” Scheffler explained. “I hoped to cap off an amazing year with a victory here but came up short. McIlroy prevailed in a playoff to take home the FedEx Cup the same year. In 2019, the inaugural year of the new FedEx Cup format, he won it for a second time.
After a year of fighting LIV Golf, which has attracted about two dozen players and is now a party to an antitrust case against the PGA Tour, this victory may have been the sweetest of all.
Over the previous few years, as competing leagues came into view, it was McIlroy who reaffirmed his unwavering allegiance to the PGA Tour. McIlroy, along with Tiger Woods, spearheaded a historic player-only meeting last week that will inevitably lead to major changes for the tour.
Indeed, there was an escalating sense of pleasure associated with this. He was fine with being the tour’s unofficial spokesperson. “I think it’s important to speak up for what you believe in, and I’m a firm believer that you should. I do,” McIlroy declared. “What it’s doing to golf is terrible, and I despise it. The thought of it makes me sick.
“When you have faith in your message, you’re willing to risk being ridiculed in order to spread it. There was a buzz all weekend long of additional defections coming in the next few days, even at the Tour Championship, a celebration of the end of the year.
It was claimed three weeks ago by the Daily Telegraph that British Open winner Cameron Smith was leaving for LIV Golf, and sources have since confirmed that he will be joining ESPN.
ESPN has heard from reliable sources that Harold Varner III, Marc Leishman, and Anirban Lahiri are also planning to depart. On Twitter, Cameron Tringale shared his decision.
The future of Chilean golfer Joaquin Niemann is still up in the air; according to his manager, the decision will be made once Niemann consults with his father later on Sunday.
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