SEPTEMBER 2 — What a week, what a day. It’s really cool to do something in golf that no one has ever done before. Obviously the history of the FedExCup isn’t as long as the history of some other tournaments, but to be walking out of here three times a champion, it’s very, very satisfying and something I’m incredibly proud of.
There’s a lot of cool things that come along with winning the FedExCup. The trophy — I have three sterling silver Calamity Jane replicas in my house, which is really cool. To think about East Lake Golf Club and Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur player to ever play the game, the sort of history and traditions of the game of golf, he sort of exemplified all that.
I said back in 2019 when I won my second one and tied Tiger Woods, that the race was on. Now the race has officially been won. It’s pretty cool to do something that not even Tiger has done in this game. At least I’ve got one thing over him. So it’s an incredibly proud moment for me and I’m going to enjoy this one.
Back in 2019, I took down the No. 1 player in the world in Brooks Koepka. This year, I took down the No. 1 player in the world in Scottie Scheffler. So I know that my best stuff is good enough to win any tournament against anybody on any golf course. That’s something I can take away.
I remember I came in here as the No. 1 seed in 2012; didn’t win. Came in here No. 1 seed in 2014; didn’t win. I just put myself in position each and every year, and you’ll take your opportunities some years; some years you won’t. But if you just keep putting yourself there, you’re bound to end up with a few of them.
The money is great and we are professional golfers. We play golf for a living. That is a part of it. But I think at this point in my career, the winning and the journey, and the emotions and who I do it with mean more than the cheque.
I have to give Tom Kim a little bit of credit because he started with a quadruple bogey at Greensboro (Wyndham Championship) and ended up winning a few weeks ago. For whatever reason, that just sort of popped into my mind on Thursday after I opened with a triple. Four-over through two holes and 10 shots out of the lead, to claw my way back and end up winning the tournament, it’s just incredible. I’m really proud of my resilience and how I sort of handled that start and sort of stuck my head down and kept going all week.
I’ve said all along this year that this season has felt very, very similar to 2019. I played great golf. I had some good wins but didn’t pick off a major, but my caddie Harry (Diamond) said to me on the 18th green, “all the good golf you played this year, you deserve this.” Honestly, I wasn’t really giving myself much of a chance teeing off in the fourth round being six back. My focus was to try to get to within three of Scottie going into the back nine. That sort of happened pretty quickly. I thought the silver lining was I was playing in the last group with Scottie so I could at least keep an eye on what he was doing, and thankfully I was in that last group because I was able to put some pressure on him early on. And then coupled with him not having his best stuff, I felt like going into the back nine, I had all the momentum.
I played a good back nine. I didn’t play a great back nine but I holed a couple of really crucial putts at the right time, especially that long one across the 15th green for birdie and then getting that little stroke of luck on 16, and those are the sort of things you need to happen to win golf tournaments.
There’s one thing I want to say. I feel like Scottie deserves at least half of this. He has had an unbelievable season. I feel sort of bad that I pipped him to the post, but he’s a hell of a competitor. He’s an even better guy. Scottie is going to win Player of the Year. There’s no doubt about that. You know, it would have been fitting for him to end his breakout season with a FedExCup title.
I think he deserved this maybe more than I deserve it. He will have plenty more chances to win FedExCups. Hell of a player, hell of a competitor. I told him this certainly isn’t the last time we’re going to have these battles. It was an honour and a privilege to battle with him.
It’s been a tumultuous time for the world of men’s professional golf in particular. I’ve been right in the middle of it. I’ve picked a great time to go on the PGA TOUR board. I’ve been in the thick of things and I guess every chance I get, I’m trying to defend what I feel is the best place to play elite professional golf in the world. It’s in some ways fitting I was able to get this done to sort of round off a year that has been challenging and different.
I believe in the game of golf. I believe in this TOUR in particular. I believe in the players on this TOUR. It’s the greatest place in the world to play golf, bar none, and I’ve played all over the world. This is an incredibly proud moment for me, but it should also be an incredibly proud moment for the PGA TOUR.
* Rory McIlroy is now a 22-time PGA TOUR winner and the first to win the FedExCup three times. You can watch Rory and the best golfers on the PGA TOUR on Astro Golf Channel and GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR.
** This is the personal opinion of the columnist.