McIlroy beats the best to win BMW Championship
CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Rory McIlroy faced the strongest collection of contenders at any golf tournament this year Sunday at the BMW Championship.
It was no contest.
Even more disconcerting for everyone else, Boy Wonder was expecting to win all along.
McIlroy fine-tuned his swing and missed only one fairway at soggy Crooked Stick, powering his way to a 5-under 67 to win his second straight FedEx Cup playoff event. They followed a record win at the PGA Championship, giving him three wins in his last four starts to establish himself as the dominant player in golf.
He became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour, and with his sixth career tour win, he joined Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win that many at age 23.
"The more you put yourself in this position, and the more you win and the more you pick up trophies, it becomes normal," McIlroy said after his two-shot win over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood. "And it feels like this is what you're supposed to do."
For the longest time, this was what Woods used to do.
"I don't think I'm quite there yet," McIlroy said. "But I'm getting to that stage where I'm thinking, 'This is what I should be doing. I should be lifting a trophy at the end of the week.' It's been great. The last four, five weeks have been incredible, some of the best golf that I've ever played. I'm going to try and keep the run going for as long as possible."
Never mind that Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh — Hall of Famers with 74 tour wins and seven majors between them — were one shot ahead. Or that Lee Westwood, a former world No. 1, was playing alongside. Or that Woods was right behind.
McIlroy made back-to-back birdies around the turn to emerge from a four-way tie, and he turned back one last challenge from Westwood and Mickelson with clutch pars. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland didn't make a bogey until the 18th hole.
"By that time, I had sort of done enough," he said.
Mickelson and Westwood tried to chase him down on the back nine at Crooked Stick, only to mistakes when they couldn't afford any.
Westwood, who lost to McIlroy in the semifinals of the Match Play Championship in February, caught him with a birdie on the par-3 13th. But the weak area of his game showed up at the wrong time — a poor chip on the 14th for bogey, another pedestrian chip on the par-5 15th that led to par. He wound up with a 69.
"I played with him when he was 13, and you could see it then," Westwood said. "He's just maturing all the time, as he will do. And he's a very, very good player.
Mickelson, tied for the lead going into the final round, was one shot behind when his approach flew the green on No. 12 and he had to scramble for bogey. Mickelson made back-to-back birdies late in the round to get within two shots of the lead, but he badly missed a 3-foot par putt on the 17th to fall three shots behind. He closed with a 70.
"A lot of people stayed neutral and Rory geared ahead," Mickelson said.
Woods was never seriously in the mix. Five shots behind with seven holes to play, he made three late birdies and shot 68 to tie for fourth with Robert Garrigus (69).
McIlroy's work is not done.
He is the No. 1 seed going into the FedEx Cup finale in two weeks at East Lake, but any of the top five seeds can win the Tour Championship and capture the FedEx Cup with its $10 million bonus. The other four seeds are Woods, Nick Watney, Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker.
"Rory is putting on a show out there," Woods said. "And we've got one more tournament."
Any of the top 30 players who advanced to the Tour Championship have a mathematical shot at winning the $10 million prize. One guy who won't have that opportunity is Vijay Singh, who started the final round tied for the lead with Mickelson. The 49-year-old Fijian fell apart on the back nine with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch to fall out of the top 30. A birdie on the final hole gave Singh a 73, but by then it was too late.
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