PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) — The last player to win back-to-back majors in the same season didn't even make it to the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake.
"That's not going to happen," said Rory McIlroy, with a smile.
He's correct, based on simple math.
Padraig Harrington won the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008, and just his bad luck, the FedEx Cup was restructured that year in an attempt to create more volatility in the playoff events. It rewarded mediocrity instead. Harrington began the playoffs by missing two straight cuts and soon was eliminated.
The system in place the last five years doesn't allow for that.
McIlroy is the No. 1 seed when the playoffs get started Thursday at The Barclays, and he is assured of reaching the Tour Championship. But his hopes of cashing in on the $10 million prize are based more on form than a calculator.
The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland is coming off three straight victories, and they were big ones — the British Open, a World Golf Championship and the PGA Championship. He is No. 1 in the world and starting to separate himself from the rest of golf.
And he's not interested in getting off this amazing run.
"I could just say, 'Look, I've had a great year, it's been an awesome summer. I'm going to just see what happens for the next few weeks and not really work hard,'" McIlroy said Wednesday. "But I want to finish the season well. I want to be up there in contention week in and week out. I feel like the season I had deserves a finish like that. So I'm going to just grind it out every week that I can until I get a bit of a break after the Ryder Cup."
Now that the majors are done for the year, the FedEx Cup presents the best four-week stretch in golf — four tournaments with the best players from the world's strongest tour competing for a shot at the richest bonus in golf.
The Barclays has one of the strongest fields of the year, even though a few players are noticeable by their absence.
Tiger Woods was in town this week, but only for corporate work with McIlroy. Woods missed three months of the season recovering from back surgery and hurt his back again in only his third tournament back. He didn't come close to finishing among the top 125 who qualified for the playoffs.
Dustin Johnson is No. 6, though he is taking a "voluntary leave" to seek professional help for "personal challenges." Jason Dufner is No. 57, though he is out indefinitely with a neck injury. Steve Stricker is at No. 103 and withdrew because of a hip injury that will turn his part-time schedule into no schedule at all for the next few months.
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