3 Questions for Tour Championship, FedExCup Winner Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy Wins Tour Championship and FedExCup
Rory McIlroy during a press conference following his win at the TOUR Championship on Aug 25, 2019 at East Lake GC in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

With a final-round 66, Rory McIlroy claimed a three-shot victory over Xander Schauffele at the TOUR Championship to become the winner of the season-long FedExCup race.

McIlroy finished his four rounds at East Lake Golf Club on net 18-under par to secure his 17th career title, and third of the 2019 season. In the process, the Northern Ireland native joined Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) as the only two-time winners of the FedExCup.

The victory earned McIlroy a bonus check of $15,000,000, along with 60 Official World Golf Rankings points for shooting the low gross (267). This will move McIlroy to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, while creating somewhat of a debate about who should win the Player of the Year Award (although Brooks Koepka should still be a lock).

Afterwards, McIlroy met with the media to discuss his big-money victory. Here are a few pulls from the back and forth.


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Clutch Putt on 16

Rory McIlroy Wins Tour Championship and FedExCup
Rory McIlroy and caddie Harry Diamond walk on the 16th hole during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Aug 25, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What was going through your mind facing the putt on 16, and how happy were you with the work you did with the putter this week?

RORY MCILROY: So, yeah, the putt on 16 was huge. Bogeying 14 and 15, I really just wanted to stop the bleeding. And when I hit the tee shot into the bunker on 16, it was a really bad lie.

Like I did well to get it to where it went to, to the front edge of the green. And then the first putt just jumped a little bit and it didn’t really have any momentum to get up and over that hill.

But that was a tricky putt. Maybe, I don’t know, a couple of cups on the left-hand side and just feed it down the hill. I holed a couple of nice ones today, a couple of birdies to give me the cushion on the back nine.

And then to stop the bleeding there on 16, just so I had a two-shot lead going into those last two holes, I could play those holes with maybe a little more freedom. Hit a great tee shot off 17, and then to capitalize on that and make birdie, just to really be able to enjoy that walk down the last was nice.


Most Important Shot of 2019 Season

Rory McIlroy Wins The PLAYERS Championship
Rory McIlroy reacts after making a birdie putt on the 15th hole during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass Stadium on Mar 17, 2019 in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

What was your most important shot of the season, not necessarily best, but most important?

RORY MCILROY: Probably the — I hit a 6-iron out of the fairway bunker on 15 at THE PLAYERS on Sunday, sort of curved it around a tree, got it up there to 15 feet, and holed the putt for birdie.

I think that basically set up me going on and winning THE PLAYERS Championship. And I think when I look back at everything this year, that was a — because if I don’t win THE PLAYERS, I don’t know what happens after that and where the season might go.

The one that I have to pick out now would probably be that shot.


Winning With Low Gross Score

Rory McIlroy Wins Tour Championship and FedExCup
Rory McIlroy celebrates and pumps his fist after making a birdie to clinch a four-stoke victory at the TOUR Championship on Aug 25, 2019 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

You’ve touched on this, but when you look at all that was on the table this week, the payback as you call it, winning the outright tournament by three from even strokes, $15 million in the FedExCup, what are you most proud of and why?

RORY MCILROY: I think honestly, winning the tournament, if everyone started even. Because that was my goal at the start of the week was to just shoot the lowest score of the week.

If that happened to work out the right way, then so be it. But I never strayed from that thought process. I was playing a little tournament inside my head. I wasn’t necessarily looking at the leaderboard the way it was. I was just trying to look at it from, okay, well, Xander is 9-under for the week and I’m 9-under, 8-under. I was just trying to play the tournament as if there was no staggered start.

I think that, and then going out in the final group and shooting 66 alongside the No. 1 player in the world when he got the better of me a few weeks ago in Memphis, I think those two things are probably what I’m most proudest of.


Credit: PGA Tour Media, Fastscripts, Getty Images