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McIlroy beats Scheffler to lift his third FedExCup

Golf owed Rory McIlroy one. Despite not having won a major since 2014 and having gone through a spiral of irregular play in recent years, the 33-year-old Northern Irishman recovered his best golf in 2022 and, in addition, he emerged as the clear leader of the resistance against LIV Golf. The one in Hollywood (Northern Ireland) has been in recent months the leading voice of those who oppose the fracture of world golf, becoming the flagship of the PGA Tour and even creating together with Tiger Woods a league, TGL, which has the objective of revitalizing golf, that sport that owed Rory a debt. Also, this year he had consistently been among the best, scoring top-10s in all four majors but not finishing (He was second at Augusta and third at the British Open, where he had options until the last hole). This past morning, McIlroy settled that debt by taking a more than succulent double prize: the third FedExCup of his career by winning the Tour Championship and, consequently, 18 million dollars.

As if it were a scripted movie, the victory of the Northern Irishman took place at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, United States. All bets pointed to Scottie Scheffler as the clear favorite for victory before heading into the final 18 holes with a six-shot lead over his pursuers, among whom was McIlroy. But the world number one proved deadly in the final round of this Tour Championship and, after 70 holes of uncontested dominance since Thursday, he gave up on the last two. Scheffler’s three-over-par final round gave McIlroy wings, who shot 66 (four under par) for a total of -21 in the tournament, one ahead of Scheffler and a great Sungjae Im. Rory’s feat is all the greater considering that while Scheffler started the last of the three FedExCup playoff tournaments down -10 thanks to points scored throughout the year, The Northern Irishman started with a -4 which quickly became par after making a triple bogey and a bogey on the first two holes. Champion comeback.

Sunday started with the completion of the third round, which could not be finished on Saturday due to the heavy rain in Georgia. In this resume, Scheffler seemed to give the checkmate to his rivals by getting four birdies in the six holes that he had pending. The American returned to the club house with -23, six shots less than McIlroy and Schauffele, leaders of the chase with -17. Behind, Jon Rahm dropped by committing two bogeys that made him face the last lap with -12. With little time to rest, the final 18 holes were disputed, in which a combination of many factors was needed for the leader to find opposition. And the perfect storm happened. Scheffler started hesitantlywithout that magic touch that he had worn in the first three days and that made him look invincible. In his first six holes, three bogeys. There was a tournament. Schauffele, a player who has the measure of East Lake Golf Club, could not get the birdies, and McIlroy started with bogey. Although it did not take long for the Northern Irishman to wake up, who shared a match with Scheffler and saw that his rival this Sunday was indeed human. Four birdies between holes 3 and 7, with several putts of great merit, placed the winner of four majors with -20, tied with Scheffler. The battle is served, and from behind only Sungjae Im seemed to have what it takes to reach the lead, although the South Korean did not finish finishing off and a double bogey at 14 was his sentence.

Rory seemed to be blessed by a magic wand. Everything came out, remembering that player who dazzled a decade ago. This year he had already shown that he had regained that sensational level, although he had yet to finish the job (the CJ Cup and the Canadian Open were his two victories this season). But this time it was going to be different. If victory for the putt eluded him at the British Open, this club was going to be McIlroy’s main weapon today. In the final round at St. Andrews he did not hole a putt from more than ten feet, while in this final round of the Tour Championship he did so four times. Golf stuff. Special was the one that holed in hole 15 for birdie from 10 meters. This tube made him climb back to a lead from which he had dropped a previous hole with an unlucky bogey. Rory raised his fist and celebrated angrily in a signature gesture. In the meantime, Scheffler had managed to calm his initial nerves, and the $18 million haul was going to be decided down the stretch.

The 16th hole was decisive, in which McIlroy saved a pair of great merit after missing the green, while Scheffler was not able to do the same. The world number one was on the ropes with his fourth bogey of the day. For the first time since Thursday, 70 holes later, Scottie Scheffler did not appear in the first place of the Tour Championship, and he had just two holes left to fix such a black day. He had a golden opportunity on the next hole, the 17th, where he badly missed an eight-foot single putt. The line of that attempt was not good at all, and It felt like the ultimate rapier for him. Sungjae Im put pressure on the last game leaving a result of -20 at the club house, and McIlroy faced the 18th hole knowing that a par (waiting for what Scheffler did who went to the sand) would give him the victory. He had some luck, the one that the gods of golf owed him, on his second shot, that he went wide and hit the support of a bleacher. The Northern Irishman was able to relieve himself and leave two comfortable putts to win the tournament. Rory holed out and the golf world smiled.

The victory of the Hollywood with -21, one less than the -20 of Im and Scheffler, makes him become the golfer with the most FedExCup in history. McIlroy has won this prestigious title that closes the PGA Tour three times (2016, 2019 and 2022), one more than Tiger Woods, with whom he was tied until now. Interestingly, at a time when the money for which players join LIV Golf, who has most defended that tickets are not everything He is the one who takes the biggest loot of all time: 18 million dollars, three more than those that Cantlay pocketed last year. “What a week, what a day. I didn’t think I had many chances, but I played well and Scottie missed. Winning this year means a lot, I believe in golf and this circuit is the best place in the world to play. It is a great moment for me and it has to be for the PGA Tour too, two of the best on the planet have fought face to face. I hope the people back home enjoyed it,” Rory said after his win. A triumph for romantics.

Jon Rahm, for his part, did not have a good last day either. After jump right into the fight for victory after the first two lapsthe Spanish deflated over the weekend. This Sunday he closed it in 71 blows, one over par for the field and the same result as on Saturday. Desperate with his mistakes, the one from Barrika was one of the five men (29 competed) who did not close the Tour Championship with 18 final holes in the red. The final -11 saw Rahm finish tied for 15th. And so Rahmbo closes an irregular and complicated season, in which the Mexico Open has been his only victory, while in the majors he has always been far from the top positions. Now, he will rest before opening the European campaign, where he plans to participate in the BMW PGA and the Spanish Open in Madrid. He has to settle, for now, with seeing that McIlroy is the new king of the PGA.

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