“I think I’ve always had an appreciation for what Tiger did over the years,” McIlroy said. “The more you put yourself in this position, and the more you win, and the more you pick up trophies, it becomes normal, and it feels like this is what you’re supposed to do. I’m sure that’s how he felt when he was on that run, and how he still feels. He still won three times this year.
“I don’t think I’m quite there yet,” he said. “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 weeks, 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.”
Johnson chipped in for eagle on the ninth hole, creating a four-way tie with Mickelson, Westwood and McIlroy. Mickelson fell back with a wedge that just missed its mark and sailed over the 12th green, leading to bogey. Westwood tied McIlroy with a birdie on the 13th, only for questions about his chipping to resurface when he couldn’t handle tough lies on the 14th (bogey) and 15th (par).
Vijay Singh went backward. He was tied for the lead with Mickelson going into the final round and had thoughts of winning for the first time in four years. Three bogeys in an ugly stretch of four holes led to a 73, and the Fijian didn’t even qualify for the Tour Championship.
Only the top 30 from the 70-man field advanced to the FedEx Cup finale. Bill Haas shot a 78 and missed out by one shot. John Senden shot a 42 on the back nine, finishing with a double bogey, but managed to get in. So did Ryan Moore, who had a 70.
McIlroy, meanwhile, has shifted into new territory. He built a three-point lead in the world ranking, making it unlikely anyone can catch him the rest of the year. And after beating such a strong field, he moved into elite company. McIlroy, with his sixth career win, joined Woods (15) and Jack Nicklaus (8) as the only players since 1960 to win at least six times on the PGA Tour at age 23. McIlroy doesn’t turn 24 until May.
He was not surprised by the win. After going to the range Saturday evening to match up his swing with how quickly his hips turn, McIlroy brought that to the golf course and missed only one fairway.
Plus, he is getting used to this business of winning. The eight-shot win at Kiawah Island in the PGA Championship. Winning the Deutsche Bank Championship last week outside Boston by closing with a 67. And now a second straight FedEx Cup playoff win.
“I’m confident in my ability and confident with the shots that I’m hitting and confident on the greens,” McIlroy said. “I’m making the right decisions out there, and everything is really just going to plan at the minute.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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