LAKE FOREST, ILL. (AP) - Down to his last chance, Rory McIlroy knew this was no time to be riding the brakes.
“I have to be aggressive,” he said Tuesday.
McIlroy wasn’t gripping a golf club. He was behind the wheel of an electric BMW i3 in a vacant parking lot at an amusement park north of Chicago, racing against the clock and against Gary Woodland in a charity event.
They each had four attempts around a makeshift track of straightaways and hairpin turns. McIlroy needed to shave 4 seconds off his best time for a $100,000 scholarship to be awarded in his name through the Evans Scholars Foundation. Hitting a cone added 2 seconds to the time.
Dust kicked up when he took the car down the straightaway. Tires screeched around the turns.
Cones went flying.
“I lost track of how many I hit,” McIlroy said with a laugh when he got out of the car.
It wasn’t much different from how his golf has gone this year.
McIlroy left the racing behind and drove at a more reasonable speed to Conway Farms Golf Club to get ready for the BMW Championship, the third FedEx Cup playoff event and perhaps the last tournament. That’s surprising for a guy who started the year at No. 1 in the world.
He is No. 41 in the FedEx Cup standings. McIlroy figures he needs to finish among the top seven against a 70-man field to be among the 30 players who advance to the Tour Championship with a shot at the $10 million prize. That doesn’t sound so hard, except it would be his best finish in five months.
McIlroy doesn’t have the market cornered in disappointment.
Luke Donald was still No. 1 in the world just over a year ago, and he was No. 2 when the season began. He has made it to the Tour Championship every year since 2009, so often that going to East Lake should be an afterthought. Donald, however, is No. 54 in the FedEx Cup.
“I think someone who was at the pinnacle of the game not too long ago and is now 54th on the FedEx Cup, it’s been disappointing,” Donald said. “It’s been very hard this year. It’s been frustrating at times, and I’ve had to make some tough decisions in terms of changing swing coaches. But I feel good about where things are headed, and I’m excited about the future. This year, I still have time to rescue it.”
McIlroy isn’t about to give up on his year, either.
His issues stem from the short game, though there have been plenty of distractions off the golf course that are subject to speculation _ swapping out his entire set of golf equipment by signing a big endorsement contract with Nike, and then deciding to leave management companies for the second time in 18 months. That situation still has not been resolved, and it can be awkward to have two managers around him at the same time.