NORTON, Mass. – Rory McIlroy got the start he wanted Monday at the Deutsche Bank Championship, erasing a three-shot deficit in just five holes. The finish was hardly a masterpiece, except for the part when golf’s No. 1 player posed with the trophy.
Boy Wonder didn’t make it easy on himself on Labor Day at the TPC Boston. He tore up the turf on a tee shot that traveled 170 yards, and that was the only fairway he hit over the last five holes.
He had to make a 6-foot putt to save par from a bunker, and a 5-foot putt to save bogey after a pitch sailed from one side of the green to the other. And he had to wait as Louis Oosthuizen’s birdie putt to force a playoff slid below the hole.
“I had a couple of wobbles coming in, but I obviously did enough and I’m very excited to get a victory,” McIlroy said.
That’s all anyone will remember.
On a leaderboard packed with some of the biggest names in golf – McIlroy, Oosthuizen, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson – the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland took a giant leap toward establishing himself as the best in the game.
With four birdies in six holes at the start, and limiting the damage from his mistakes at the end, McIlroy closed with a 4-under 67 for a one-shot victory over Oosthuizen, joining Woods as the only three-time winners this year on the PGA Tour.
McIlroy goes to No. 1 in the Fed-Ex Cup. And with one of his wins being the PGA Championship, that might be enough for his peers to vote him PGA Tour player of the year. He also has a comfortable gap in the world ranking, and could be tough to catch the rest of the year unless Woods were to win the next two FedEx Cup events.
“He’s not No. 1 in the world for nothing,” Oosthuizen said. “He’s a great young talent; a lot of majors left for him to win. He’s such a cool kid on the course. It’s great playing with him. He makes tough shots look really easy sometimes, especially long irons.
“I don’t think the back nine he hit the ball that great after what he did on the front nine, but he did what he had to do.”
Woods made an early charge to get back in the hunt, though he never got closer than three shots until a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th gave him a 66. He finished third, two shots behind, and earned enough money to become the first player to surpass $100 million in PGA Tour earnings.
His career total is $100,350,700. Next on the list is Phil Mickelson, who finished fourth at the TPC Boston and has $66,805,498.