McIlroy six behind Stenson in Atlanta; Power sluggish in Tour finals

Rory McIlroy was forced to attack and paid the price as Henrik Stenson extended his lead in the Tour Championship at East Lake.

The world No 2 tugged his aggressive tee shot into a trap at the par-three 18th and failed to get up and down, carding a one over 71 to find himself six shots behind the Swede on three under and tied for fifth at halfway in the final FedEx Cup play-off event in Atlanta.

"Honestly, I thought the scoring would have been better just because of the softness of the golf course and not much wind," McIlroy said of the rainy condition.

"I guess everyone was finding it a little tricky. It was a lot different than we usually find this golf course. It played long, heavy air, so that was probably a factor.

"It just one of those days where it was sort of a bit of a grind and trying to shoot something under par and I was trying to be aggressive at the last and tried to make birdie there and it backfired on me and I made bogey.

"You couldn't really miss that pin anywhere left and I did. It was a tough up-and-down from there."

Only four players in the 28-man field broke par with Jordan Spieth's best of the day 66 leaving him as Stenson's nearest rival, three behind the leader on six under.

Stenson's 68 was the joint second best score of the day alongside Justin Rose, putting him at nine under par on a course where he won the FedEx Cup x years ago.

As Stenson cruised, McIlroy admitted he found it tough to get any momentum as he racked up four bogeys against his three birdies.

"Yeah, I don't really know why, but, yeah, it was just hard to get anything going," the Ulsterman said. "You can see from the scores out there, apart from a couple of guys everyone was sort of in the same boat.

" Hopefully I can get off to a better start. I've been one-over through six holes the last two days. So I need to get off to a better start tomorrow to get myself back in the tournament."

While he still has the European Tour's Final Series to go, McIlroy admitted the the year has been a write off, despite his three worldwide wins.

"I think it's a loss year already, just because I didn't win a Major. So, no matter what happened this week, okay, it would be nice, it would be a nice consolation if I was to win.

"But I judge myself on the biggest tournaments and the biggest tournaments we have are the four Majors and I played okay in them but I didn't win. So ultimately, it's a year that I guess got away from me.

"You always have to set yourself goals and reassess where you are, and bit by bit just try and get back to the level that you want to be at. I think I'm getting closer.

"I made a few good strides last week and I feel like I'm doing the same this week. And it's just a process of trying to get a little bit better each and every week.

"And I've got after this four tournaments to try and finish the season on somewhat of a high and get ready for next year."

McIlroy can still win the Tour Championship but he knows it will be tough to do it by being aggressive.

He said: "I don't know if this is a golf course you can be overly aggressive on, because you just saw at the last there, you try to be aggressive at some pins and you short side yourself and it's very tough to get it up-and-down.

"So, if you start being overly aggressive, it can get away from you very quickly on this golf course. So, I guess it's just about picking your moments to be aggressive, picking your moments to know what flags to fire at, what flags, it's good to hit it 20, 25 feet away and take your par.

"But I think the key for me tomorrow is just to get off to a better start. Being one-over through six the last two days, sort of puts me on the back foot, especially when it seems like a lot of guys are getting off to good starts.

"The first four holes, you've got three wedges in your hand and it would be nice to take advantage of those."

Stenson will play with Spieth today but while that will be a test, he was happy with his five-birdie 68.

"I'm pleased with the day's work,' Stenson said. "It was definitely tougher conditions out there. The course is playing longer, it's very wet, and still the greens are holding up very good. They're quick and pure as ever.

"Some longer shots into the greens, and I'm happy with the way I got it together. I didn't feel like I brought my best game, my best striking today, but I still shot under par, which is always nice and we're in a similar position as we were after one round, but now after two. So, so far, so good."

FedEx Cup leader Jason Day shot a 71 and trails Stenson by nine strokes on level par. Tour - Seamus Power is nine strokes behind leader Martin Flores in the Nationwide Childrens's Hospital Championship in Ohio.
He shot a two over 74 in the penultimate event of the four-tournamsnet Playoffs and and is projected to fall to 69th in the race for 25 PGA Tour cards heading into the season-ending Tour Championship at Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.
At four over par, Power is nine strokes behind leader Martin Flores at OSU Golf Club's Scarlet Course in Columbus