It will be a clear case of mixed golfing emotions for Rory McIlroy this week as he returns to Medinah for the first time in seven years, following yet another shock Sunday horror show at the Northern Trust in New Jersey.
McIlroy has dropped to third on the FedEx Cup points table after posting another ‘tear-your-hair-out’ final round 69 for a 12-under par total in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.
American Patrick Reed posted a closing a 69 to win by a shot at 16-under par from Mexican-born Abraham Ancer, with the reigning Australian Open winner signing for similar last day 69 as Reed leap-frogged from 67th to 8th on the FedEx Cup standings.
Reed, who captured the title for a second time in three years, fought back from one-over par through six holes to birdie three of his closing 11 holes, is the one who has knocked McIlroy back to third on the FedEx Cup points table.
“I’m feeling good, though in saying that my back wasn’t feeling good this morning,” said Reed.
“It’s amazing, just to be back and to feel like I’ve been playing some solid golf and finally having it pay off and to come out with a victory. It’s been a while. Been a little too long honestly but what better place to do it than here. Have the Statue of Liberty in the background, Presidents Cup here in 2017 and hearing Captain America and USA all week, it was a good time to get a ‘W’.
“As for my back, I did manage to hit a good few cut shots early in my round and that helped but once I got settled into the round my back started to come good, so I’m standing here very happy.
“So, I was able to win and I just feel great. I will rest and recover and just get ready for next week. There is still a long way to go but this is a great start heading to the BMW.”
McIlroy’s final round showing was yet another frustrating Sunday and despite being a two-time winner this year and also enjoying a total of a dozen top-10s in his 16 PGA Tour counting events.
He got his New Jersry last round off to a great start in almost holing his 138-yard second shot at the first for an eventual tap-in birdie.
There was then was the bizarre scenario where McIlroy’s wayward second shot at the par-4 third hole landed in a woman’s carry bag after the shout of ‘fore’ had the woman and other spectators scurrying for safety.
Unlike the rules uncertainty of two days earlier when McIlroy was first slapped with a two-shot bunker penalty which was later rescinded, there was no such issue on this occasion with McIlroy given a ‘free’ drop.
McIlroy walked off with a bogey after missing a 15-footer for par but quickly regained the shot draining a 10-footer on the next but from here on it was a roller-coaster of emotions for the four-time Major winner.
He birdied four and six but then bogeyed seven and eight and made the turn in one-under for the round with a birdie on ninem with McIlroy then proceeding to mirror his outward half with a similar home nine.
McIlroy bogeyed 11, birdied 13 but dropped a shot at 14 ahead of posting back-to-back birdies at 16, where he sank a 30-footer, and then sinking an eight-footer on 17 to get to two-under for the round.
Then at the last, McIlroy two-putted from 50-feet for a par and a 69 to then finish in a clubhouse share of sixth place at 12-under total, yet again so close to victory.
McIlroy will now look to regroup ahead of Thursday’s starting to the BMW Championship at Medinah and he won’t need any reminding of the bizarre events of seven years ago when his now wife, Erica helped organise a local police car to get McIlroy to the course just in time for his final day Singles match in the 2012 Ryder Cup.
“I made enough birdies today, and seven birdies was nice but there was just too many loose shots,” said McIlroy.
“I haven’t really had it this week in terms of really being in control with my ball flight especially with the irons and the wedges, so it’s just a little work in progress.
“There was some good, some bad, and some average. I feel like if I had a little more control of my ball flight this week I could have shot a few better rounds but it’s still a decent finish as I finished well today.”
Joining McIlroy in suburban Chicago is fellow Open Champion Shane Lowry who produced a horror outward last day round that included one birdie but two doubles and a pair of bogeys to be five-over for his round.
Lowry then bogeyed the 10th before stopping the rot with four birdies over his closing seven holes in a score of 73 for an eventual three-under par total.
He ended his a first ‘Play-Off’ Series event just inside the top-60 but slipped to 25th on the overall FedEx Cup standings.
It means Lowry needs to remain inside the top-30 at the close of this week’s BMW Championship to be assured teeing-up in the following week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.
No such concerns on Saturday night when Lowry along with wife, Wendy plus his caddy, Bo Martin and members of his long-time Horizon Sports management team celebrated his Royal Portrush triumph dining-out on the recommendation of Brian O’Driscoll at the famed ‘Frenchette’ restaurant on West Broadway in New York City.
Graeme McDowell also heads to Medinah, where he and McIlroy had teamed-up in 2012, lying 64th on the FedEx Cup points table, just managing to get through to the last 70 despite missing the Northern Trust cut with scores of 71 and 72.