Featured Golf News
Rory Does it Again
Rory McIlroy survived a three-shot deficit entering the final round, closing with a 4-under 67 to overtake 54-hole leader Louis Oosthuizen and win the $8 million Deutsche Bank Championship. The second leg of the four-tournament, season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs took place at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.
McIlroy finished at 20-under 264, one stroke ahead of playing partner Oosthuizen, to notch his third victory of the year. His earlier wins came in the Honda Classic in March and the PGA Championship last month.
The 23-year-old put pressure on the 29-year-old Oosthuizen right out of the gate on Labor Day, posting five birdies - against a bogey - on the front nine to make the turn at 4-under 32. He followed with a birdie-bogey inward half for an even-par 35.
Oosthuizen couldn't keep pace after a 1-over 37 front nine. After three straight pars the South African birdied the fourth but doubled the par-4 fifth to lose the lead. On the back side, he could only muster two birdies and a bogey to lose by a stroke.
Particularly painful was his final bogey on the par-4 17th, which McIlroy also bogeyed. Oosthuizen, who hit the fairway with his drive, missed the green and couldn't get up and down for par, which would have tied McIlroy for the lead heading into the par-5 closer at TPC Boston.
The 2010 British Open champion told PGATour.com that he and his caddie were fooled by the wind direction on the penultimate hole. "The 17th hole cost me," Oosthuizen said, adding that he and his caddie "got the wind completely wrong" on his approach to the green.
McIlroy, the top-ranked player in the world, moved to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup points list as the Playoffs move to next week's BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana. He's also guaranteed a top-five spot for the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta, which starts September 20 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The ultimate FedEx Cup winner will receive a $10 million bonus.
The winner of last week's Barclays, Nick Watney, is No. 2 in the standings followed by Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker and Oosthuizen in the top five.
"That was more survival those last few holes," McIlroy said at greenside of his shaky finish. "I didn't finish it off the way I'd have liked, but I'm happy to get my third win of the year. It's good to get a victory in these Playoffs. It sets me up in a good position for the next two weeks."
McIlroy later told reporters, "Obviously delighted to get my fifth win on the PGA Tour, third win this year, second win in the last three events. Yeah, today was great, going out with a three-shot deficit. I just wanted to get off to a good solid start and maybe put Louis under a little bit of pressure.
"I was able to do that playing the first holes 3-under, and we both made a couple mistakes on the fifth hole, but he made a six to my five, so I was able to take advantage of that a little bit. I think the good start set me up for a solid back nine. There was a couple of shots on the back nine I - well, I won't take back now, but if I could have then, I would have. But still managed to do enough, and as I said, delighted to get this win, delighted to go to No.1 in the FedEx Cup, sets me up for a great next couple weeks. So overall just very pleased." (See below for his full post-round interview.)
Despite being unable to close out the way he wanted, Oosthuizen will leave Boston satisfied with his effort. "It was a good week," said Oosthuizen. "I played well. Didn't start well today, which made the back nine really tough. But all in all, I'm very happy with the week. There's two more big events left, and I'm very happy with the way I'm hitting the ball going into those tournaments."
Woods ended up in solo third at 18-under 266 after closing with a stellar five-birdie 66. In the Deutsche Bank Championship Woods shot four rounds in the 60s for the first time since the 2009 BMW Championship, which he won.
Woods was happy with his overall play. "After the first day, we figured it was going to be pretty low," the three-time Tour winner this year said. "It was going to be 16 (under par) or so, that's what we filled, and it ended up being more than that because it was soft. The greens never really sped up, so we were able to be aggressive all week. With it a little bit cooler and less humidity, the fairways dried out, and we had some serious chase out there. We were able to get the ball and just about everybody down there where we had 9 iron down on every hole."
Sharing fourth at 14-under 270 were Phil Mickelson (66) and Dustin Johnson (70). Snedeker took solo sixth at 271 after a 67, while tied for seventh another stroke back were Adam Scott (66) and Jeff Overton (68).
Mickelson, who used a new claw putting technique for the first time this week, was pleased with his performance at TPC Boston. "This was a good week for me because the last couple of weeks I've started to kind of piece my game back together," the four-time major champion told reporters.
"The irons have been good, putter is getting to where I want it to be, and I've been driving the ball well. So the pieces are finally there. Even though I didn't put myself in a position to make a run at the leaders, my game feels like it's back, and I'm ready to start competing here in the next couple, and I'm going to see if I can get one of the next two."
On Tuesday, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will make his four wild-card selections for the 2012 team, which will seek to regain the Cup from the Europeans later this month at Medinah Country Club near Chicago. Snedeker is hoping his high finish at TPC Boston got Love's attention.
"I played good today, just got off to a slow start, and that kind of hurt me," said Snedeker, who had two bogeys in his first five holes but carded six birdies on the day. "But it's in Davis' hands. He's got a tough decision ahead of him. Somebody is going to be really disappointed tomorrow, and whoever it is probably deserved to make the team.
"So it's going to be a tough night for me and everybody else on the outside looking in," added Snedeker, who won the Farmer's Insurance Open in January and has six top-10 finishes in 20 starts, earning $3,512,939 on the year.
Overton, an Indiana native, came into the Deutsche Bank ranked 83rd and needed to play well to reach the top 70 on the points list and qualify for the BMW in his home state. Overton gave credit to Mickelson for settling him down in the first round. "I really wanted to play at Crooked Stick all year," said Overton, who jumped to 40th in the points with his T-7 finish.
"It's kind of been circled on the schedule of things to do this year, and just I really wanted to get in there. Today it was hard looking at it last night knowing you've got to shoot probably 3 or 4 over because that's the last thing you want to think about doing, and there's nothing more nerve wracking and thinking about shooting over par," he added. "But Phil on the first day was great, he said, let's have a good day, we'll go make a whole lot of birdies, and it kind of just clicked in my mind a little bit and shot a few under, and it was a fun day. He was awesome to play with."
After opening with rounds of 67, 67 and 69, Charley Hoffman appeared to be a lock to move on to Crooked Stick. All looked fine as he made the turn in 2-under 34. But the San Diego native started making a hash of things, closing with three bogeys and a triple on the par-3 11th hole. He needed a par on the 18th to slip inside the top-70. Hoffman managed to sink a par putt from 11 feet to end up at 69th and move on.
"Obviously pretty disappointed how I finished on that back nine," said Hoffman, who shot 42 on the inward half. "I was just trying to make that putt. I had no idea at all . . . I knew I was close to top 30 making the turn, and all of a sudden I knew after the quad and the bogey that I thought I was out personally. I kind of had calculated when I fell outside the top 20 on 17, and when I didn't make a birdie, I didn't think I really had a chance. Obviously I was wrong."
Dicky Pride finished with a 69 and 68 to get the 70th spot, earning his ticket to Carmel, Ind., thanks to birdies on the last two holes. "I knew I was close," said the 43-year-old from Alabama. "I knew I needed to get a couple or I thought I needed to get a couple. I was trying desperately not to look at the scoreboard. I was doing the Nick Saban. I was trying to get into the process of the shots I was trying to hit and execute those, and I hope Coach Saban would have been proud."
The odd man out at No. 71 was Jonas Blixt. The Swede closed with a 68 that put him temporarily in the 69th spot, but it didn't last. When asked right after his round - not knowing whether he'd move on to the BMW - the 28-year-old noted, "It's almost the worst position ever. It's a little nerve-wracking. At least I played a good round today and I can be happy about that. I'll look at it in a positive way and keep my fingers crossed the next couple hours."
Also moving on is Bill Haas. The defending FedEx Cup champion shot a 69 to get to 28th; No. 2-ranked Luke Donald (17th); Lee Westwood (23rd); 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley (12th); and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington (56th). Despite not making the cut in the Deutsche Bank Championship, Masters' champion Bubba Watson is 10th on the list and also qualified for the BMW. For the complete projected FedEx Cup points list, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/stats/current/02394_projections-1.html.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard.
After signing his scorecard, McIlroy met with reporters and described what his latest victory means to him.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy. Rory, you pick up your fifth PGA Tour win here at the Deutsche Bank Championship and move to No.1 in the FedEx Cup standings in the process. You want to talk about the round today?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, obviously delighted to get my fifth win on the PGA Tour, third win this year, second win in the last three events. Yeah, today was great, going out with a three shot deficit. I just wanted to get off to a good solid start and maybe put Louis under a little bit of pressure. I was able to do that playing the first holes 3 under, and we both made a couple mistakes on the fifth hole, but he made a 6 to my 5, so I was able to take advantage of that a little bit. I think the good start set me up for a solid back nine. There was a couple of shots on the back nine I - well, I won't take back now, but if I could have then, I would have. But still managed to do enough, and as I said, delighted to get this win, delighted to go to No.1 in the FedEx Cup, sets me up for a great next couple weeks. So overall just very pleased.
Q. Just curious on 18 were you mentally preparing for a playoff? Did you think he was going to make it?
RORY McILROY: Yeah. I was mentally preparing - you know, the putt, my putt to win, I was really trying to make it and still don't know why it didn't drop. But yeah, I mean, I thought for sure he was going to make that putt and we were going to go play the 18th again.
Q. Standing on the 18th tee did you think if you had made a par you were going to win this tournament?
RORY McILROY: No. I thought I needed to make 4. Louis hit a great tee shot and put himself in a great position and just leaked his second shot a little bit. You know, and I felt like I hit a good tee shot, too, just went a little bit too far. Even if I wanted to go for the green, I wouldn't have been able to. So I had to lay up and just try to make 4 that way. Didn't quite happen, but thankfully in the end I didn't need it.
Q. Can you just talk about 17?
RORY McILROY: 17, yeah. I was hitting 5 wood off the tee. I hit 5 wood off the 15th, as well, and obviously chunked that on purpose to lay up short of that bunker at 210 (smiling). But I - so that was sort of in my mind. I was trying to just hit a good tee shot down there with a 5 wood and leaked it a little bit right and didn't have a great lie in the rough. So was trying just to get it up somewhere close to the green and left myself in a pretty tricky spot and ended up making a great bogey. It was a great up and down from the back of that green for a 5. Big putt, four or five footer, whatever it was, to stay one ahead going into the last hole. It was a big up and down there.
Q. You talked about being three down at the start and wanting to get off to a fast start. Do you get specific as far as your strategy? With some birdie holes early, are you thinking, all right, if I'm this after this - or does it depend how he plays?
RORY McILROY: It totally depends how the other guy plays, too. There's two really good chances in the first four holes, the 2nd and the 4th. If I birdie those and maybe if I snuck another one out of those first four holes, I'll be really happy, which I did. Yeah, I thought if I could play the front nine in 3 or 4 under par, I've played it in 4 under, I didn't think I'd quite have the lead, but I'd be pretty close or at least be a little bit closer to Louis. He didn't get off to the start that he wanted to, obviously, and I got level with him pretty soon in the round. I made a couple good birdies on the 6th and 8th hole and it just sort of got me going.
Q. Behind you and Louis were some Americans who are vying to get on the Ryder Cup team. How curious are you to see who those picks will be tomorrow?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I'll be tuning in like the rest of you. Yeah, Davis has got such a tough job on his hands. He's got six or seven guys to choose from for four spots. You know, you've got Snedeker has had another good week this week, Dustin Johnson has had a good week, you've got a couple of experienced guys in there, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, obviously both can play with Tiger. Yeah, I mean, I really wouldn't want to be in Davis' position tonight trying to decide who to pick.
Q. Louis said after the front nine he had yesterday today felt like a 47 on the front.
RORY McILROY: (Laughs.)
Q. But in that position, I don't know if you're aware of what he's doing per se, but when you see him struggle on the front and when you build a three shot lead, are you cognizant of where things are at all times?
RORY McILROY: No, I mean, I just you can't really let what the other guy is doing affect you in any way. You've just got to keep playing your game, keep trying to give yourself opportunities for birdies, try and hit fairways, try and hit greens. And that was all I was trying to do. I knew I was a couple ahead, three ahead, one ahead. He made a couple birdies there on 13 and 15 to get back to within one, so I always knew where I was in that regard, but I wasn't really looking at what he was doing, I was just thinking about how many shots I had.
Q. Louis said that if he made his putt on 17 that would have put a lot more pressure on your putt. Do you agree with that?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, for sure. Having a putt to stay - to be just tied for the lead going into that last hole instead of one ahead brings its own pressure and different pressures. Certainly made my putt a little bit easier seeing that he missed his.
Q. You took the lead for good at the 6th hole. Could you talk about the shot you hit in there, what the club was and the fact that you did not relinquish the lead from that point on?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was a great - it was a great bonus after making bogey at the fifth to bounce straight back with that birdie. It was a 9 iron from 154 yards. Obviously knocked it pretty close there and hit a great drive up the next and drew a pretty scrappy lie in the fairway and was trying to dig out a little bit, got it a little heavy. Still had a great opportunity for birdie there that I didn't make, but was able to make the birdie on the 8th hole, which was big, as well. Yeah, once I got into the lead, I felt very comfortable and just tried to keep applying the pressure, hit fairways, hit greens, and it worked for the most part. Obviously had a couple wobbles there coming in, but did enough in the early part of the round to have enough of a cushion to get the job done.
Q. Two questions, the most important one being did you think the dude on 9 looked like Louis' brother?
RORY McILROY: He did have the gap in the teeth, which I thought was so funny. He was following us for the whole way around. I thought there was a few similarities there, yeah.
Q. The other one, we've talked about the U.S. Open last year and what followed. Coming off the PGA win, two tournaments later, to turn in a performance like this, what does that say about you going forward?
RORY McILROY: I think I've just learned. I've learned how to handle winning big events and carrying myself forward and not dwelling on what's happened, just moving forward, just trying to win another golf tournament, trying to put myself in position. There's a time and a place to celebrate and to enjoy what you've done, and going into the Playoffs isn't it. You have to just focus on the week ahead. I'll get to Crooked Stick tomorrow and start to prepare for that tournament. This run that we're on, we just have to keep thinking about the next week, and once Ryder Cup is over, for sure I'll think back and I'll celebrate and I'll enjoy the great golf that I've played over the last few weeks.
Q. Did you fall into that trap after Congressional?
RORY McILROY: A little. I took three weeks off after the U.S. Open to sort of do a lot of media things, commitments, celebrate a bit and try and get ready for the Open Championship. You know, I had a lot going on at that time, and probably didn't handle it the best. But I learned from it, and I tried to - as soon as I won the PGA, refocus my mind and focus it on the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and I've done that. Even after this win, I'm just focusing on next week. And yeah, once the Playoffs are over, once that Tour Championship finishes, then focus on the Ryder Cup and try and give it my best shot there, as well.
Q. Talk about the significance of winning for the third time this year, catching Tiger at a time when it seems like winning a lot isn't as easy as it used to be.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's nice to get the third win this year and tie Tiger for the guy with the most wins. Yeah, I mean, it's rare to see guys having six and seven win seasons. I know Vijay went on an unbelievable run and obviously Tiger did it for so many years. Three is a great number. I'd like to make it four or five, obviously, going into the - after the FedEx Cup. But I'm very pleased with how I've played the last few weeks, very pleased at how hard I worked on my game leading up to these few weeks because I felt like it was nearly there, and it just needed to stay patient. I felt like I turned a corner at Akron and then it really clicked at Kiawah, and I've just kept it going from there.
Q. With your girlfriend in town this week and playing with Louis, who you're comfortable with, were you more relaxed than most weeks?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, the two PGA events Caroline has been two this year, I've won both of them, so need to get her to more (smiling). Yeah, it's nice. It's great to feel like you're in a relaxed environment, especially off the golf course. I don't really have a problem getting away or not thinking about it, but to have someone with you that you can completely just clear your mind of what's going on here, just completely focus on something else, it's a nice thing to have, a nice distraction.
Q. Two part question: Last year you weren't here, and do you know what you were doing last Labor Day, and were you watching these Playoffs, and at some point last fall did you say, I want to compete, I want to be part of this playoff system?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, this time last year I had just finished playing in Switzerland in the European Masters, and I was getting ready for the Dutch Open. I can't quite remember what I was doing the Monday, but was probably watching this. I was. I watched Webb win here, actually. And I was watching on TV, and yeah, probably did say to myself, I want to be part of that next year again.
Q. At any point did your mind drift back to think what was going on behind you? Obviously a lot of people think that when Tiger is close they're thinking about it. Did that ever come into your mind?
RORY McILROY: Not at all, no. I was just trying to concentrate on myself. Obviously I knew what Louis was doing up there, but I didn't really think about anything else. Obviously looked at the board a few times and saw that I was maybe a couple ahead of Louis and then a couple ahead of the next guy. I think it was Tiger. But no, I mean, I was very comfortable out there, and I didn't really think about it at all.
Q. I know the season is not over yet, but what year is better, this year or last?
RORY McILROY: This year for sure. You know, to get to world No.1, back up a major winning season in 2011 with another major this year, three wins on the PGA Tour, you know, I feel this year has been a big year for me to back up what I did last year. This year for sure.
Q. Just curious, do you think people watching at home when the leaderboard comes up and they see McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Mickelson, Woods, they probably get a charge out of it. Does it matter to you?
RORY McILROY: No, not particularly. It could be any of the guys on Tour below me. It doesn't - of course it's great for the fans and it maybe creates a bit more of an atmosphere to see the top guys up there and competing, but at the end of the day you just want your name to finish on the top of that list, and it doesn't matter whoever it is below you.
Q. You like that eight shot stuff better, right?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, exactly. I don't mind squeezing out a one shot victory every now and again, though, also.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.