Rory McIlroy plans to have the last laugh this year and end it as world No 1 and FedEx Cup champion, not to mention king of Europe.
Just as Rickie Fowler crept up on the rails and took advantage of a late mistake by Henrik Stenson to win the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston last night, McIlroy hopes to win the last two Playoff events.
He is buoyed by a vastly improved putting performance at TPC Boston, where he closed with a five under 65 to finish tied 29th, 12 strokes behind Fowler on three under.
And while he admits that he is still short on match practice having played just two events since June’s US Open because of his football provoked ankle injury, he’s hopefull that he can do what others did to him in the past and take the FedEx Cup with a couple of late wins in Chicago and Atlanta.
Disappointed that his hot form fizzled out over the last six holes, which he played in one over, McIlroy was happy to show some improvement and apparently unconcerned that Jordan Spieth would overtake him and regain the world No 1 ranking this week before McIlroy recovers it next week.
“I holed some putts, finally,” McIlroy said after taking 27 putts and just 14 as he palyed his first 12 holes in six under.
"I really got it going on the front nine and even sort of the first 12 holes. And then sort of the same old stuff I’ve been doing the rest of the week, giving myself opportunities for making birdie.
"It really feels like it could have been a lot more. A lot of positives. It was nice to finish the week this way.
"Even on the way in I can't really fault my ball-striking. I gave myself a great look at 13, a great look at 15, another great look at 16. And one at the last, as well. And to play those holes in 1-over par was quite disappointing.But overall I can take the positives from it. It was a good score in tricky conditions. It was a little windy out there. All of this to take into Chicago.”
McIlroy got a phone tip from Dave Stockton earlier in the week and while his putting is still “a work in progress” he’s hopeful his game will click in time to give him a chance to win the FedEx Cup.
Focussing more on that than his position in the world rankings, the world No 2 said: "I’d love to play well next week and get myself into the top five going into Atlanta. That's still the goal. I'll probably need a win. But if I can do that then I know it’s possible.
"I've had it done to me a couple of times before where guys have snuck into the top-5 then won The TOUR Championship and then the whole thing. I’m trying to do the same thing this year.”
The players have this week off to recharge their batteries before they head to Chicago and Atlanta.
McIlroy will be No 1 again for the BMW Championship given the vagaries of the rankings and when asked if he was a fan of the system, he said he couldn’t think of a better one.
“I don’t see any other way,” said McIlroy, who is now 17th in the FedEx Cup standings. "You can do it on a one-year point system. I think two years is a reflection of how you played. At the end of the day it’s just about playing and playing well.
“I don't know any other way we could determine the best player in the world, if you go on majors or number of wins in the season."
As for the Deutsche Bank Championship, Fowlerrallied from two shots behind with five holes to play by making a 40-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole and then taking advantage of Stenson’s double ogey five at the 16th, where his tee shot came up short and bounced into the water.
“Just kind of hung in there today,” said Fowler, who shot 68 to finish in 15 under. "It’s pretty special."
The win moved Fowler to third in the FedExCup standings behind Jason Day and Spieth. The victory was Fowler's second of the season (THE PLAYERS) and third of his career.
"I've been playing well the past couple of years," Fower said. "It was just a matter of time before I knocked down the door."
Stenson called the seven iron that balooned on the wind at the 16th and end up in the water, a “killer blow.”
“I obviously pulled the wrong club on 16 and was trying to get the most out of a seven-iron into the wind and ballooned that one a little bit and that was the crucial mistake, making double there was really a killer,” he said after a 70. "I tried to get those two shots back or at least one to force a playoff on the last two holes and couldn't manage to do it."
The top five in the FedExCup standings are Day, who was 12th in Boston on six under after a 69, Spieth, Fowler, Stenson and Bubba Watson.