Over to you, Rory! Woods hands McIlroy initiative as battle for $10m FedEx Cup bonus nears end
10:31 GMT, 22 September 2012
He has no car and might shortly have no house but hey, it’s not all bad news.
The best known nomad in sport, Rory McIlroy, is now the favourite once more to collect the $10million FedEx Cup bonus cheque.
McIlroy has put his house on the market back home in Northern Ireland for no more sinister reason than what’s the point of owning a 2million mansion with its own practice facilities if you’re never there.
On course: Rory McIlroy could win a $10million dollar bonus over the weekend
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‘I’ll stay with my parents when I go
home and as I won’t get there for a while, they’ve got a good chance to
do some decorating and make it nice,’ he said, cheekily.
Friday was a good day for the 23 year
old. Not only did he move two clear of his main rival for the
$10million, Tiger Woods, who played poorly, he drew rave reviews for his
short game from the maestro in that department, Phil Mickelson.
‘Twice in the first four holes he
described a couple of my recovery shots as awesome and that’s high
praise indeed given how good he is at flop shots and out of bunkers,’
Both strokes, mind, were fully
deserving of the extravagant description. The first, at the opening hole
was a 30 yard bunker shot where he judged the pace and slope to
perfection to leave the ball tap-in distance from the hole.
Slipping away Tiger Woods has handed control back to McIlroy
In-form man: Jim Furyk shot seven under par in Atlanta
The next one, at the fourth was even
better. From behind the green McIlroy made a full swing at a flop shot
in the manner of a Mickelson and threw the ball high in the air. It
landed like a butterfly and he rolled in the ensuing 6ft putt for a
miraculous saving par.
The other highlight of his round came
at the par five 15th where he hit the green in two and rolled in a 25ft
eagle putt. It all added up to a 68 that leaves him in joint seventh
place at the halfway stage.
‘I feel like I am exactly where I need to be going into the weekend,’ he said.
McIlroy lies four strokes behind the
leader Jim Furyk with Justin Rose a shot adrift. Both will like their
position when it comes to winning the tasty $1.44million first prize
that goes to the winner of the final FedEx event, the Tour Championship.
But neither can take the $10 million off McIlroy if he stays where he is right now.
McIlroy would have to finish worse than 13th for Furyk to have a chance, for example.
As for the main danger, Tiger Woods
went backwards in a hurry. Never mind him being intimidated by Rory.
These days he only seems to play his best golf when partnering McIlroy.
He began three shots ahead of his
young rival and now he is playing catch-up. At one point they were
exactly level on FedEx points.
Tough day: Woods hit some splendid shots but then fluffed his lines on other holes
If that happened on Sunday, they’d
have a sudden death play-off, with $7million on the line since second
place in the FedEx is worth $3million.
McIIroy whistled when I mentioned the
possibility. ‘I don’t know how I’d feel but I’d certainly take that
position,’ he said. ‘The bottom line is still nice, isn’t it’
There won’t be any chance of a
play-off if Woods continues to play like he did on Friday. This was
certainly a world away from the control and purpose he showed in the
opening round as he tumbled to a score fully seven shots worse than the
‘It was just a struggle from first to last,’ he conceded.
Woods’ playing partner Rose also looked as if he was in for a day of toil as he reached the turn in a mediocre 36 strokes.
But the Englishman dug in, making
four birdies on the back nine to salvage his day. None was better than
the two he made at the treacherous par three 18th, where his long iron
pitched just over the bunker at the front of the green and finished 5ft
from the hole.
The 32 year old rolled that one in to close with a 68.
‘Playing with Tiger was a great practice round for the Ryder Cup given they were mostly rooting for him,’ said Rose.
Midas touch: McIlroy has his eyes on the gigantic $10million prize
‘It was a great lesson for me to
stay in the moment and play my shots, and while it wasn’t pretty golf by
any means, I felt like I did that well.’
Furyk was a controversial wild card
pick for next week’s Ryder Cup as far as a lot of American commentators
were concerned, but this fine round of 64 must have made him feel an
awful lot better.
He gave a brilliant answer when asked
whether he felt he had proved a point. ‘I don’t really read much golf, I
have to tell you,’ he said.
‘I’ve always felt you’re going to
say something nice about me and I probably don’t need to read that. Or
you’re going to say something bad about me and I definitely don’t want
to read about that.
'What matters is that my captain Davis
Love asked all my team mates who they would pick and they also chose
me, so I’m humbled and honoured and looking forward to Medinah.’
The feeling that this is going to be
one of the great Ryder Cups was only emphasised by a leaderboard packed
with those who will also be in Chicago.
No fewer than nine competitors who will represent either Europe or the U.S are positioned in the top 12.
It promises to be some weekend, both this week and next.