by Jeff Skinner
On opening day of the NFL football season Rory McIlroy did what many NFL coaches hoped their teams could do today: execute a flawless game plan. McIlroy was nearly perfect all day hitting long straight drives and towering iron shots that enabled him to card a five under 67 and capture his second consecutive FedEx Cup Playoff event. McIlroy’s victory at The BMW Championship keeps him in first place on the FedEx Cup points list going into the PGA Tour’s final event in two weeks, The Tour Championship.
McIlroy started the day one stroke back of Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh who teed off one group ahead of McIlroy and Lee Westwood. It was a leaderboard as filled with stars as we have seen all season with Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott all in the mix.
Rory went to work early with birdies on the second and fifth holes. He closed out the front nine with another at the ninth to get it to thee under for the day. He kept it up with another birdie on the tenth but then cooled off with four straight pars.
While Rory was hitting fairways his opponents were having trouble keeping it in the short grass. Singh ran out of gas and with three bogeys in four holes from 14 to 17 and even his closing birdie couldn’t give the 49 year old a ticket to the Tour Championship.
Lee Westwood made a valiant charge on the front nine with a three under 33 but could only manage an even par back nine as his putter cooled off and finished two strokes behind McIlroy.
Phil Mickelson had said his game was so very close recently and his 64 on Saturday proved him right. But too many wayward shots forced Mickelson to scramble time after time and his five birdie three bogey 70 left him tied for second with Westwood.
McIlroy had a three shot lead as he hit into his final hole and his bogey made no difference other than the only mark on a rather perfect card.
There is one big tournament left in the PGA Tour season and then an even bigger Ryder Cup match left for McIlroy but he is riding a wave right now that few golfers have seen.
His 2012 season consists of four PGA Tour wins, two seconds, one third and nine top ten finishes. Certainly his PGA Championship is by far the biggest win of the year but beating the best golfers in the world in consecutive weeks has solidified even more McIlroy’s place atop the world rankings. Consider that just a few months ago we all were wondering what happened to McIlroy as he missed three cuts in four events at The Players, The Memorial and his defense at the U.S. Open.
After a T60 at the Open Championship Rory summoned his coach to the states and worked hard on finding his swing. His past five tournaments are any golfer’s dream: T5 at the Bridgestone, a win at the PGA, T24 at The Barclays and consecutive wins at The Deutsche Bank and the BMW.
Tim Finchem has to be smiling today as McIlroy and crew have given his playoffs a sense of importance and excitement that previous years have lacked.
Finchem and the PGA Tour have had a great week and a wonderful playoff run but Rory’s has been even better. And as he heads into the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup he knows it’s not over yet.