A refreshed Rory McIlroy will look to put his heartbreak at the Open Championship behind him as he focuses on the “strange” task of winning a record-breaking third FedEx Cup title.
McIlroy held a two-shot lead midway through the final round at St. Andrews and carded a 70 with no bogey, but that wasn’t enough to end his eight-year major championship drought.
Australia’s Cameron Smith clinched the Claret Jug after shooting eight birdies – including five in a row from the 10th – to card his second 64 of the week and finish 20 under par, a previous best of 19 under the Old Course set by Tiger Woods struck in 2000.
“It was a tough night,” McIlroy admitted in a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the FedEx St Jude Championship.
“The few days after that were OK, I think. It probably took me three or four days to find myself again. But I think what softened the blow a bit is that I felt like I didn’t lose it.
“The fact that Cam went out and shot 30 on the back nine made it a little bit easier to get over it. It’s not like I went out there, shot 75. I went and played a solid round of golf, didn’t get as much of it as I was hoping but I think because of the way I played I managed I guess, just a little bit easier to overcome.”
When asked if he was wondering what he needed to do to win a fifth Major title, McIlroy added: “No, I think it’s more if I keep playing like this at major championships, the law of averages suggests that I will do this to bring myself back into the winners’ circle at some point.
“I played really solid, I shot 18 under par for four days around St Andrews and it wasn’t good enough to get the job done. As I said, if I continue to play like I’ve done in the bigger tournaments, the law of averages would indicate that I’d eventually get a trophy.”
McIlroy revealed he took two weeks off after the Open, joking that he “didn’t touch a racquet, didn’t see the inside of a gym, probably didn’t eat any vegetables.”
But the world number three returned home in Florida last week as he bid to become the first player to win three FedEx Cup titles and the $18m (£14.9m) bonus claimed.
The player with the most FedEx Cup points begins the season-ending Tour Championship on 10-under, the second-highest point earner on 8-under, and so on, on a sliding scale.
“It is strange. It’s like having to play good golf consistently for 30 weeks and get hot again at the end,” added McIlroy, who is currently sixth in the table.
“I think it’s tough to win, especially with the format in Atlanta now because it really gives the guys that played well leading up to the Tour championship an advantage.”
Former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama has pulled out of this week’s event due to a neck injury.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/rory-mcilroy-st-andrews-tour-championship-cameron-smith-fedex-b2142514.html Rory McIlroy tries to put Open heartbreak behind to bid for third FedEx Cup