Coming from five strokes down, Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship by a four-stroke margin over Xander Schaufelle. With the victory, McIlroy claimed the FedEx Cup title and pocketed the $15 million paycheck that accompanies the victory. This was the richest prize ever awarded in golf history. For McIlroy, it was the second time that he had claimed top honors for the PGA Tour’s postseason playoffs. He joins Tiger Woods as the only two golfers to win the Tour’s playoff twice.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 25, 2019
Due to the score weighting system of the FedEx Cup, McIlroy started five strokes behind the early leader Justin Thomas. However, McIlroy soon closed the gap. McIlroy started off hot with a first-round 66 to get himself into contention. By the time the final day rolled around, McIlroy and Schaufelle were sitting at the top of the leaderboard. Schaufelle could not get anything going with the title on the line, finishing the final day at even par.
McIlroy made par on each of his first five holes before reeling off consecutive birdies on six and seven. Two more birdies on 12 and 13 had him threatening to run away with the title before bogies on the next two holes gave some drama to the tournament. However, Rory McIlroy slammed the door on Schaufelle with two more birdies on 17 and 18 to clinch the final event on the PGA Tour. For the tournament, McIlroy was under par each day and shot no worse than 68.
The Northern Irishman is one of the top golfers in the world even though he struggles periodically with his putter. At East Lake, McIlroy had no such issues. McIlroy’s drives were on point all weekend long as usual. McIlroy ripped off 28 drives of 320 yards or more. Long known as one of the best drivers on the PGA Tour, McIlroy owned the par 5’s at East Lake. Of the eight total par 5’s over the four-day event, McIlroy made seven birdies to keep the pressure on the field. This showcased the power that is at the core of the Northern Irishman’s game. Over the four-day tournament, McIlroy gained five strokes off of the tee.
What was unusual was his proficiency with the long putts. On the final day, McIlroy drained a 22-foot putt for a birdie on the seventh hole to move to the top of the leaderboard. During the course of the tournament, McIlroy minimized his putting mistakes so his driver could make the difference. For a long par-70 course such as East Lake, it is vital not to lose strokes on the greens, and McIlroy was up to the challenge. Of course, a little luck didn’t hurt as McIlroy avoided a penalty and possible double bogey when an approach shot got caught in a drain.
Schaufelle netted $5 million for his runner-up finish. Brooks Koepka, who led by a stroke entering the final day, and Justin Thomas tied for third place, five strokes back of McIlroy. With his finish, Koepka maintains his top ranking. The Tour Championship victory moved McIlroy up to number two in the world, right behind Koepka. The two golfers have begun to develop a rivalry and played together on the last day of the Tour Championship.
After his victory, McIlroy heads immediately to Europe to hear up to participate in the Euro Tour’s season championship. McIlroy is attempting to accomplish the unheard-of feat of winning both championships in a season. At the age of 30, McIlroy is just beginning to enter his prime as a golfer. In his last seven starts on the PGA Tour, McIlroy finished no worse than sixth place.