CARMEL – 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 challenges from Westwood and Mickelson with clutch pars. McIlroy, 23, from Northern Ireland, didn’t make a bogey until the 18th.
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 make mistakes when they couldn’t afford any.
Westwood caught McIlroy 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 and 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.