Heading into Labor Day weekend, world No. 5 Rory McIlroy had made more news recently off the course than on it. The 2011 U.S. Open champion was chastised for his seeming indifference to golf returning to the Olympic Games, and on the course the Northern Irishman had been without a victory since May, when he captured the Irish Open.
That all changed on Monday at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., when McIlroy carded a 6-under-par 65 in the final round, erasing a six-stroke deficit to edge 54-hole leader Paul Casey by two strokes in the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
It also gave McIlroy a little confidence boost going into the final two events of the 2015-16 PGA Tour season and the Ryder Cup Matches for Team Europe at the end of the month at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn. He hadn’t won on the PGA Tour since May 2015.
Such a victory didn’t seem possible three holes into the championship. He was 4 over par after three holes of Friday’s opening round, but played his final 69 holes in an impressive 19 under par. It’s the kind of scintillating golf that people have come to expect from one of the game’s most powerful players.
It was the second time in four years that McIlroy had won this event and it catapulted him to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings heading into this week’s BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind.
“Six shots behind the lead, I didn’t know what I needed to do today,” said McIlroy. “I just knew I wanted to go out and play a good round of golf and hopefully that was going to be enough.”
Entering the week, the biggest question surrounding McIlroy had been his putting. He ranked 130th on the PGA Tour in a key statistical category – strokes gained putting – and he made some significant changes, putting a new putter in the bag and working with a new instructor, Phil Kenyon. McIlroy said it was a “very simple fix” that produced a big improvement on the greens.
”Very impressive,” said runner-up Casey. “His round of golf… should really be applauded. That’s stellar stuff.”
Reigning U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and three-time USGA champion Ryan Moore tied for eighth place at 9-under 275, six strokes behind McIlroy.