Rory McIlroy began Sunday’s final round of the Tour Championship six shots back of leader Scottie Scheffler. It was almost an impossible uphill battle given how consistent and dominant Scheffler has been this season.
The keyword in that last sentence is almost, because after a final round 66, McIlroy found himself in the winner’s circle at East Lake for a record-setting third FedEx Cup and $18 million richer.
McIlroy had his best stuff on Sunday hitting 15 greens in regulation and finishing the afternoon with just 25 putts. Scheffler, on the other hand, never looked comfortable carding just one birdie on the day en route to a three-over 73.
While it was a Sunday to forget, Scheffler should, and likely will be named PGA Tour Player of the Year. He finishes his season with four wins, a green jacket, and as the No. 1 ranked player in the world.
As for McIlroy, his win at East Lake on Sunday is poetic.
McIlroy has been the face, voice, and pulse of the PGA Tour all year long as LIV Golf continues to disrupt the golf world.
The 2022 season has been the most unique and chaotic in PGA Tour history. Seeing the player shouldering that burden go on to win the Tour’s biggest prize is unbelievably fitting.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 28, 2022
Rory McIlroy Uses LIV Golf Chatter To Fuel His Fire
This is now the second time McIlroy has performed at his best with the threat of LIV Golf lingering in his head.
McIlroy captured the RBC Canadian Open on the same weekend LIV Golf held its inaugural event in London thanks to a final round 62 on Sunday in one of the best finishes of the year.
His win this week at the Tour Championship comes just a few days after the PGA Tour announced sweeping changes to come moving forward, changes spearheaded by McIlroy and his fellow Tour players.
Three weeks ago, prior to the start of the first FedEx Cup playoff event in Memphis, McIlroy was asked if he enjoyed being the unofficial spokesperson of the Tour amid its battle with LIV Golf.
“Not really,” McIlroy answered. “I don’t feel like it’s my job to be up here and stick up for the Tour or be a spokesperson.”
The 33-year-old was frustrated and tired of being the guy everyone looked to for answers about the future of the PGA Tour. Instead of letting the outside noise hurt his game, it’s as if he used it as fuel, and he had a full tank on Sunday.
Given his mindset three weeks ago and everything he’s had to deal with off the golf course, it’s hard not to think that the golf gods weren’t on McIlroy’s side on Sunday at East Lake.
This win in particular speaks to the kind of character and competitor McIlroy is. There’s a reason everyone looks to him for answers and his performance on Sunday is the latest example of why.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris