Rory McIlroy’s mobile phone didn’t ring nor did the soon-to-be dad sound any victory celebration bells over the final round of the BMW Championship in Chicago.
The winning notes were left for Spain’s Jon Rahm to savour after the Spaniard holed an enormous swinging putt from all of 60 feet at the first playoff hole to get the better of 54-hole leader, Dustin Johnson.
The American looked to have swung all momentum his way when he tied Rahm in the clubhouse at four-under par after holing a winding 40 footer of his own at the 72nd hole to force the playoff but Rahm wasn’t to be outdone.
A 66-FOOT PUTT FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP!
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 30, 2020
“I still can’t believe what just happened, what happened the last hour of play,” Rahm said.
“You know, especially from my 15th hole on, making birdie on that hole with a 6-iron with my third shot, and then birdied the par-3 and have chances on the last two. That stretch of waiting for DJ, him making the putt, going in the playoff, me making the putt, then trying to stay mentally in it just in case he made the last putt, it’s been a roller coaster but so much fun.
“I think the best way I can explain it is it was just a lot of joy on the golf course for me. Not because I played good but because that’s what I set out to do. It’s a difficult course. You have to play good. People were playing good early so I knew we could get some birdies in and have a lot of fun doing it.
“That’s probably the reason why everything turned out the way it did. Stayed aggressive because I was feeling comfortable with the driver, and it paid off.”
Meanwhile, after two ‘more inspired’ opening scores, McIlroy was never a factor over the weekend posting a Saturday 73 and closing out day four with a disappointing one-over par 71 for a three-over par tally on the Olympia Fields course.
It saw the World No. 4 head to the emptiness of the spacious south Chicago clubhouse sharing 12th place and also staying in 12th place on the FedEx Cup standings ahead of the final event of the 2019/20 PGA Tour season.
McIlroy’s round began with a three-putt bogey and while he regained the shot in holing a six-footer at the next, what then followed was akin to a ‘I want to be out of here’ last day.
He dropped a shot at the eighth to make the turn in one-over and then got back to even in draining a nine-footer for birdie on 10, only to give the shot back on 11.
McIlroy grabbed a third birdie of his round at the 13th and then for a first time in four days, he birdied the par-5 15th to move to one-under and also into red numbers for a first occasion in his round.
However, for a second occasion over his inward half, McIlroy gave the shot back at the next, the par-3 16th in finding rough well left of the flag.
McIlroy then dropped another shot at 17, finding a greenside bunker some 60-foot from the flag but then completely missed the green nearly 20-feet left of the flag for his fifth bogey of the day ahead of a closing par.
McIlroy left the Windy City heading home to a heavily pregnant wife, Erica, with golf now seemingly an after-thought as the couple awaited a first child.
McIlroy entered Friday’s start to the double defence of his Tour Championship crown and FedEx Cup trophy in Atlanta but that could easily change in the coming days.
He was adamant in confirming last Saturday long-held rumours that his wife was expecting that being present at the birth would ‘trump’ any $US 10m golf tournament.
“If the baby arrives this coming week, yeah for sure I will not be playing in the Tour Championship,” he said.
“Yeah, definitely, just depending on what happens. I’m going to play in many more Tour Championships and it’s only going to be the birth of your first child once. That trumps anything else.”