Rory McIlroy’s record third FedEx Cup a deserved, fitting crown for the PGA Tour’s off-course champion


When athletes retire after years of dedication to their craft, it’s common to see them swapping their uniforms for suits as they attempt to reshape the game that once shaped them. Some players go on to become coaches and others join the media as analysts, but there are a few who occupy the role of primary decision-makers of their leagues or the teams within.

In an unprecedented year in professional golf, Rory McIlroy has taken an even more unusual path. He has become the rarest of all titans, someone who is just as talented and influential behind the scenes as he is in front of the camera. On Sunday, arguably the best player in the world beat the same number of people on the East Lake Golf Club course as this year: all of them.

McIlroy overcame a triple-bogey start to the FedEx Cup Playoffs final and what was (at one point) a 10-stroke deficit for Scottie Scheffler, McIlroy won the 2022 Tour Championship, captured a record third career FedEx Cup and brought a cool $18 million take home grand prize.

On Sunday, McIlroy started six behind the Masters champion, who sought to become the first golfer to earn more than $30 million in one year on the PGA Tour (event revenue plus FedEx Cup prize money) and also the first to earn more than $30 million in one year. in a PGA Tour season since Justin Thomas concluded 2017 with his own FedEx Cup.

McIlroy’s momentum stopped immediately with a bogey on the first Sunday, but he plastered the field for the rest of the day, playing the next 17 holes in 5 under. At one point, in the middle of the round, he made five birdies in the space of nine holes — leading to a back nine battle between Scheffler and McIlroy with $18 million on the table — but the pivotal point of the entire tournament. came on the 15th and 16th holes.

On the 220-yard par-3 15th, McIlroy safely hit an iron on the left side of the green, away from the water around it. Then he buried that 31-foot birdie putt, a nod to what was easily the best putting year of his career. One hole later, after a club-turned wedge from a fairway bunker, McIlroy hit his throw off the stick and hit an 8-footer for par, making him the first golfer in the field to jump to the top of the leaderboard ahead of Scheffler .

For the first 69 holes of the tournament, McIlroy was either behind or equal; he suddenly found himself in the lead for the final three.

Scheffler didn’t have the game we’ve seen all season, the game that will likely make him the PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2022. He shot the worst round of the day with a 73. McIlroy’s 66 followed a 63, which he completed early Sunday when round 3 ended after being suspended for bad weather Saturday night. He shot matching 67s the first two days.

It was, like most of McIlroy’s victories, a show. It also didn’t even come close to his best performance this month.

McIlroy and Tiger Woods led a players-only meeting at the BMW Championship last week. The end result of getting most of the world’s top golfers in the same room — and taking ownership of the future of the PGA Tour — was an announcement by Commissioner Jay Monahan that the PGA Tour’s top players have committed to 13 play PGAs. Tour events together from 2023.

Rory is adamant, both public and private in 2022, that LIV Golf is not good for the sport. Regardless of your stance on that assessment, there’s no denying that McIlroy has put his time, effort and energy into advocating for the PGA Tour as he seeks to reshape professional golf for the next 10, 20 or 50 years.

“I’ve been in the thick of it,” he said. “I think every chance I get I try to defend what I think is the best place to play elite professional golf in the world. very, very challenging and different.”

A cynic might say McIlroy has a lot to gain from a thriving PGA Tour. That is absolutely true. His partnership with Woods in TMRW Sports, an organization that will host simulated matches in conjunction with the PGA Tour, will bring both men a lot of money. However, one must also recognize that Tiger and Rory (especially together) don’t necessarily need the blessing of the PGA Tour to consolidate power and wealth. TMRW could go anywhere and be successful, and the duo could have cashed in on about $1 billion along with LIV Golf.

When it comes to the sport, McIlroy is exactly who you want him to be and might just be the person you’ve been looking for. Lovingly, he is a golf sicko. He dives deep into Data Wave, just like you and me. He scans the LIV Golf lawsuit for humorous tidbits, just like you and me. If he wasn’t one of the 25 Greatest Golfers of All Time, it’s easy to see him commenting and joking about it all, just like you and me.

There is nothing more captivating in an athlete than genuine humanity and authentic passion. Not to say “Santa is not real”, but most athletes exercise because they are good at it and are paid extraordinarily well to show that talent, not because it touches their souls. And they certainly don’t care how what they’re doing now affects the through-line of an entire sport.

McIlroy has put the aforementioned time, effort and energy into countless fronts. He’s not the commissioner of the PGA Tour, but the number of powerful people in his job — and the way he can inspire them to a shared vision — is enough to convince you that he would be a great one.

This came to a head at the BMW Championship last week when a Player Advisory Council meeting (McIlroy is the president) was followed by the aforementioned McIlroy and Woods-led players only meeting. Being deeply involved in these off-course arenas – especially the ones that are emotionally grueling like the battle against LIV Golf – can easily affect one’s game on the course, and yet McIlroy not only has done both well, he has absolutely thrived. Even with his mind so preoccupied during this stretch, McIlroy has played some of the best golf of his entire career.

The numbers are staggering.

  • 16 starts on the PGA Tour
  • 3 wins
  • 10 top 10
  • Top 8 finishes at all four majors
  • Earned Over $28 Million (Tournament Wins, FedEx Cup, Comcast Business Top 10)
  • 2.58 strokes taken since January 1, not counting this week (even Scheffler hasn’t been better)

Perhaps none of this is particularly surprising. McIlroy has always been extrinsically motivated, and an existential professional wave crisis where the way the entire infrastructure functions is up in the air certainly qualifies as extrinsic motivation. Plus, golf has become a reprieve.

“Honestly, golf has been the breakout for me for the past few weeks,” he said. “I’m crawling in the ropes, no one can get to me, and it’s my escape from these other things that are going on.”

What’s perhaps more surprising than McIlroy playing great golf is that someone who has generations of talent at this game would also be able to put forth such a strong vision while looking forward to the game with equal grace and conviction. leads. McIlroy has clearly been the right man to meet this moment.

“If you believe in something, I think you should speak up, and I believe very strongly in this,” McIlroy said of the future of the PGA Tour amid the threat of LIV Golf. “I really do. I hate what it does to the game of golf. I hate it. I really do… So yeah, I feel strong. I believe what I’m saying are the right things, and I think when if you believe what you say are the right things, you like to stick your neck out.”

Great players are not so commonplace. The same can be said of leaders who are willing to throw themselves into something they truly believe in. Someone who can do both, especially asynchronously, represents an unusual, perhaps even curious, scarcity.

The golf world has received and mostly embraced the rarest of all the characters in McIlroy. Someone who is both dynamic and reliable enough to lead his colleagues as they shape the future, while still playing at a high enough level to shape the present. Someone who is both good enough that their voice matters, and bold enough to use it. Someone who may not have asked for this battle, but whose wave may have inadvertently been elevated to a place that means he’s the only one who can wage it.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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