McIlroy hits FedEx Cup $15 million jackpot

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates with the FedExCup trophy on August 25, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 26 August 2019

McIlroy hits FedEx Cup $15 million jackpot

  • It will boost Mcllroy to No. 2 in the world behind Koepka

ATLANTA, GEORGIA: The crowd rushing to circle the 18th green. The steady chants. It all sounded so familiar to Rory McIlroy at East Lake, with one big difference.

On Sunday, it was all for him.

One year after he was an overlooked bystander as Tiger Woods celebrated the missing piece of his comeback by winning the Tour Championship, McIlroy surged past Brooks Koepka and delivered a clutch par putt when he needed it to win the FedEx Cup and the $15 million prize, the biggest payout in golf history.

“It’s amazing how different things can be in a year,” McIlroy said.

With two final birdies, McIlroy closed with a 4-under 66 to end a marathon day at the storm-delayed Tour Championship and finished four shots ahead of Xander Schauffele. He joined Woods as the only players to win the FedEx Cup twice since it began in 2007.

He smiled at hearing the chants, “Rory! Rory! Rory!” from a gallery that came under the ropes on the 18th hole to watch the finish.

“I must say, I didn’t enjoy that walk last year like everyone else did,” McIlroy said. “I never took the fight to Tiger.”

McIlroy had more than the $15 million prize on his mind.

He wanted to win this outright and was keeping score to the very end. The format was changed this year to give top players a head start based on par depending on their standing in the FedEx Cup. Justin Thomas was the No. 1 seed and started at 10-under par before a shot was hit. McIlroy was the No. 5 seed and started at 5 under.

He finished at 18 under in the FedEx Cup finale. His actual score was 13-under 267, better than anyone else in the 30-man field.

It will boost him to No. 2 in the world behind Koepka.

There also was a small matter of payback. McIlroy had a one-shot lead over Koepka in a World Golf Championships event last month in Tennessee but made only one birdie in the final round as Koepka blew past him to win.

They were in the final group Sunday at East Lake, and McIlroy got the best of the No. 1 player.

The final round turned on the seventh hole with a three-shot swing — McIlroy made a 25-foot birdie, while Koepka lost his tee shot in the trees and made double bogey. There were consecutive two-shot swings on the back nine, and then it was a matter of holding off Schauffele.

McIlroy was four shots ahead until back-to-back bogeys, and he was on the verge of watching his lead shrink to one when he holed an 8-foot par putt on the 16th. Schauffele had to settle for pars, and McIlroy finished with a flourish.

He was the only player to break par all four days.

Schauffele closed with a 70 to finish alone in second, which paid out $5 million.

Thomas lost his way Sunday morning in the conclusion of the third round when he took triple bogey on the 16th hole to fall four behind. He finished with two birdies and a 68 and tied for third with Koepka, who ended another big year with a pedestrian finish of 72.

They each earned $3.5 million.

Paul Casey shot 72 to finish fifth and earned $2.5 million.

What looked to be a shootout turned into a runaway for McIlroy.

The marathon final day — 31 holes for McIlroy and contenders — began with big promise for a wild chase for the $15 million prize. Four players took turns atop the leaderboard in the first 35 minutes of golf Sunday morning, which included Schauffele’s first hole-in-one of his career with a 5-iron on the 240-yard ninth hole.

The third round had been suspended Saturday after lightning struck a tree and injured six spectators huddled nearby. Police said they were treated and released from medical attention later that night.

Koepka birdied the 18th for a one-shot lead over McIlroy and Schauffele. It was tight for the first hour of the final round, and then it turned quickly.

Koepka was still up by one shot when he yanked his tee shot into the trees left of No. 7 and never found it. He made double bogey, and it became a three-shot swing when McIlroy made a 25-foot birdie putt.


Real Madrid near title with 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao

Updated 06 July 2020

Real Madrid near title with 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao

  • This was Madrid’s toughest fixture left and they might have been content even with a point

MADRID: Sergio Ramos scored his 22nd consecutive penalty on Sunday as Real Madrid held on for another 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao to inch closer to winning La Liga.

Ramos’ fifth goal in seven games since the restart gives Madrid a seven-point lead over Barcelona.

Anything but a victory for Barca would probably leave them too much to do with four games remaining, especially as Madrid own the superior record head-to-head.

This was Madrid’s toughest fixture left and they might have been content even with a point against a robust, well-organized Bilbao side.

But after edging out Getafe on Thursday, through a Ramos spot-kick, Madrid repeated the trick at San Mames, their captain’s nerve from the spot combining with a gutsy display to grind out a pivotal win.

Ramos was perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty himself when, off the ball, he seemed to slip and tread on the foot of Raul Garcia, but Madrid escaped.

Instead, the defender’s 10th goal of the season, the best tally of his career, gave Madrid their third 1-0 win in a row, as well as a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

“It’s a massive win,” said Ramos. “We knew today was going to be one of the biggest games that we have left. It’s always a difficult game away at Bilbao and we saw it like that. We’re happy with another crucial three points that put more pressure on Barcelona.”

Ramos said he is always confident on penalties.

“In those moments of doubt that’s when I feel most comfortable. I wanted to take the responsibility,” he said. “But if I wanted individual recognition I would play tennis.”

Bilbao’s Iker Munain said Madrid had again been lucky with decisions.

“We’re not going to win it thanks to the referees,” said Ramos. “People have to look at themselves and be critical of their own performances. Based on the points, it seems we’re doing well at the moment.”

Madrid were without key players, with Raphael Varane nursing a neck injury and Eden Hazard out with pain in his ankle.

Eder Militao replaced Varane while Marco Asensio made his first start in 14 months up front.

There were chances at both ends in the first half and Bilbao had the best of them. Williams twice went close but was denied by a block by Marcelo and then a superb tackle by Militao while Raul Garcia’s header was pushed out by Thibaut Courtois.

Karim Benzema would have had a tap-in had Dani Carvajal executed a cushioned pass across the box but his touch was too high.

Asensio’s free kick had created the chance and he swung in two more brilliant crosses before half time, only for Rodrygo and Benzema to miss with their heads.

The second half was tighter as both teams slowed in the heat and a more cautious contest seemed to suit Madrid, whose moment came in the 73rd minute.

Marcelo was rewarded for a lung-busting run into the box, where he reached the ball just ahead of Dani Garcia, who twisted his body into the left-back and bundled him over.

Referee Jose Gonzalez consulted VAR and awarded the penalty, which Ramos whipped into the bottom corner.

Bilbao looked tired and never really threatened an equalizer but could have been gifted one had Ramos been penalized for the clumsy collision with Raul Garcia. Ramos survived and Madrid held on.