ATLANTA — Late Sunday afternoon, as Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler ready to play the ultimate gap of the Tour Championship, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stood on a balcony of the East Lake Golf Membership clubhouse, overlooking the 18th inexperienced.
Monahan, who has had a tough summer season if you have not heard, had an enormous smile on his face.
Monahan is aware of that regardless of which gamers LIV Golf takes from the PGA Tour on Monday, or within the coming days, weeks, months or years, it appears sure the rival tour won’t ever get McIlroy and Scheffler, two of the largest stars within the sport not named Tiger Woods.
In April, Scheffler bought the higher hand on McIlroy when he received his first main championship on the Masters and McIlroy completed second. On Sunday, McIlroy bought even by rallying from a 6-shot deficit during the last 18 holes, the most important final-round comeback in Tour Championship historical past.
With beginning strokes, McIlroy completed 21 below over 72 holes, 1 shot higher than Scheffler and South Korea’s Sungjae Im. McIlroy is the primary three-time winner of the FedEx Cup; the most recent one got here with an $18 million winner’s purse.
“It means an awful lot,” McIlroy mentioned. “I believe in the game of golf. I believe in this tour in particular. I believe in the players on this tour. It’s the greatest place in the world to play golf, bar none, and I’ve played all over the world. This is an incredibly proud moment for me, but it should also be an incredibly proud moment for the PGA Tour.
“They’ve had some laborious instances this 12 months, however we’re getting by it. That was a spectacle on the market in the present day, two of the very best gamers on the planet going head-to-head for the largest prize on the PGA Tour, and I hope everybody at dwelling loved that.”
Even as Scheffler assumed the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Ranking by winning four times in six starts, the Summer of Scottie still felt a lot like the Summer of Rory.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion, narrowly missed ending an eight-year drought without winning one. After finishing second to Scheffler at Augusta National Golf Club, he came in eighth at the PGA Championship, tied for fifth at the U.S. Open and third at The Open.
McIlroy’s near miss at the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews in July was the one that was most painful. He entered the final round tied with Norway’s Viktor Hovland for the lead but could manage only a 2-under 70. Australia’s Cameron Smith carded an 8-under 64, including a back-nine 30, and beat McIlroy by 2 strokes.
“I’m only human. I’m not a robot. Of course you think about it, and you envision it, and you want to envision it,” McIlroy mentioned of profitable the Claret Jug.
McIlroy had received twice beforehand this season, on the CJ Cup @ Summit in October and the RBC Canadian Open in June. However his season would have felt considerably hole if he hadn’t taken dwelling the FedEx Cup on Sunday.
That is why his caddie, Harry Diamond, instructed him on the 72nd gap on Sunday, “All the good golf you’ve played this year, you deserved this.”
Whereas Scheffler was the very best participant this summer season and deserved to win the season-ending championship simply as a lot, McIlroy’s good work for the PGA Tour prolonged past the golf course.
When LIV Golf started signing a number of PGA Tour members to contracts, together with previous main champions Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed, McIlroy was one of many loudest voices defending the PGA Tour. A lot in order that LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a two-time winner of The Open, instructed that McIlroy had been “brainwashed.”
“If you believe in something I think you have to speak up, and I believe very strongly about this,” McIlroy mentioned on Sunday. “I really do. I hate what it’s doing to the game of golf. I hate it. I really do.”
On Aug. 16, McIlroy and Tiger Woods hosted a gathering of greater than 20 of the PGA Tour’s high gamers in an try to rally them to remain. Whereas Woods, a 15-time main champion, was the loudest voice within the 3½-hour assembly, McIlroy’s voice mattered greater than that of some other participant commonly competing on the tour now.
“I know he wanted to win this not only for himself, but for the PGA Tour and really make a statement,” Justin Thomas instructed ESPN on Sunday. “He’s the second-biggest star we have out here and it’s not like he was just given that title. He’s done that with really great golf and great time and work with the fans. He has a great brand. He does everything you’re supposed to do to be in the position he’s in.”
McIlroy mentioned he did not essentially intend to place himself in the course of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf battle. He joked that he picked the incorrect time to affix the PGA Tour’s board of administrators.
“It’s been a tumultuous time for the world of men’s professional golf in particular,” McIlroy mentioned. “I’ve been right in the middle of it. I guess every chance I get, I’m trying to defend what I feel is the best place to play elite professional golf in the world. It’s in some ways fitting that I was able to get this done today to sort of round off a year that has been very, very challenging and different.”
McIlroy admitted it has been tough at instances to give attention to his sport with a lot happening round him. This previous week, he participated in a board teleconference on Tuesday morning. The following day, he introduced a brand new enterprise with Woods and the PGA Tour. Their stadium-style interactive golf circuit, TGL, won’t instantly compete in opposition to LIV Golf, but it surely’s meant to assist put extra money in PGA Tour gamers’ pockets. Gamers will compete on three-man groups for 2 hours on a digital course on Monday nights.
And, after all, the PGA Tour’s battle with LIV Golf for the very best gamers on the planet would not appear to be ending anytime quickly. LIV Golf is predicted to announce on Monday that Smith, the No. 2 participant on the planet, and a minimum of 5 different PGA Tour members are defecting. They’re anticipated to compete in subsequent week’s LIV Golf occasion at The Worldwide exterior Boston.
“In a way, it’s my life,” McIlroy mentioned. “I don’t really know any different. In all honesty, golf has been the escape for me over the last few weeks. I get inside the ropes, no one can get to me, and it’s my escape from this other stuff that’s going on. But yeah, I guess I’m able to switch on and off pretty well, and I can compartmentalize things.”
McIlroy mentioned it is going to be “hard for me to stomach” seeing 18 former PGA Tour members who at the moment are competing on the LIV Golf sequence when he performs in DP World Tour’s BMW PGA Championship, scheduled for Sept. 8-11 at Wentworth Membership in Surrey, England. Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Reed and Jason Kokrak are among the many LIV Golf gamers anticipated to be there.
“That just doesn’t sit right with me. So yeah, I feel strongly,” McIlroy mentioned. “I believe what I’m saying are the right things, and I think when you believe that what you’re saying is the right things, you’re happy to stick your neck out on the line.”
After profitable one other FedEx Cup on Sunday, McIlroy can elevate his head a bit increased.