Rory McIlroy bags $15 million, wins Tour Championship by four

Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy bags $15 million, wins Tour Championship by four

PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy bags $15 million, wins Tour Championship by four

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ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy used the most powerful and important club in his bag – the driver – to rip off 28 drives of 320 yards or longer this week at East Lake Golf Club during the Tour Championship.

His putter was equally impressive.

At times his kryptonite during his career, McIlroy was rock solid this week with the short stick en route to a commanding victory in the season finale. With both his power and touch on point, McIlroy won the largest check in golf history – $15 million – to push his haul to more than $23 million this season.

McIlroy joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win the FedEx Cup twice. McIlroy won the FedEx Cup in 2016 and captured the Tour Championship on the same day. Woods won the initial postseason gathering in 2007 and in 2009.

Under cloudy skies amidst unseasonably cool temperatures for Hotlanta, McIlroy, who started the week five shots out of the lead because of the new staggered scoring format, shot a final-round 4-under-par 66 to finish at 18 under and four shots clear of Xander Schauffele.

TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Scores | Photos | Money | Winner’s bag

Schauffele won $5 million for finishing second at 14 under. Earlier in the day during completion of the storm-delayed third round, he made an ace on the ninth hole using a 5-iron from 240 yards.

McIlroy set up his best work this week off the tee with his driver and then cashed out on the greens. He made a 22-foot putt for birdie on the seventh hole to take the outright lead for the first time. He made a 13-footer for birdie on the 13th. One of his most important strokes came on the par-4 16th, where after making bogeys on the previous two holes, he canned an 8-footer for par to preserve a two-shot lead.

Rory McIlroy makes birdie on the 18th hole and wins the 2019 Tour Championship. Photo: Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

On the next hole he made a 15-footer for birdie to up his advantage to three and he coasted down the hill on the par-5 18th and capped his tour de force with a birdie from 6 feet.

“Such a cool way to end what has been for me a great season,” McIlroy said as he walked off the final green to loud cheers of “Rory, Rory, Rory.”

“I’ll look back on this season, and there’s been a lot of good things that I’ve done and try to improve for next year again.

“I’ve given myself so many chances, and to win three times is awesome. I feel like I could have won more. But to win the FedEx Cup again, to persist the whole way throughout the year, to keep giving myself chances even when I was getting knocked back and not be denied, I’m very proud of myself, and I’m going to enjoy this one tonight.”

It was McIlroy’s 14th top-10 in 19 starts this year on the PGA Tour. Earlier this season he won the Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, and the RBC Canadian Open. He has 17 Tour titles.

In a tie for third at 13 under were Justin Thomas and world No. 1 Brooks Koepka. Thomas, who shot 68, started the week with a two-shot lead after winning last week’s BMW Championship.

Koepka, the only other player besides McIlroy to win three times this season, led by one with 12 holes to play. But he lost his golf ball when he drove into the trees on the seventh – that was a pretty expensive lost ball – and took double bogey 6, while McIlroy took the outright lead with a birdie. Koepka also made three consecutive bogeys on the back nine.

Koepka shot 72 as he and Thomas each won $3.5 million.

It was a long day for all players as each of the top four played 31 holes. Saturday’s third round was suspended following lightning strikes that rattled the grounds at East Lake Golf Club. Five people were injured and taken to local hospitals. All were released Saturday night. A sixth person was injured and released at the scene.

McIlroy made 11 birdies in those 31 holes against four bogeys.

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