WASHINGTON // Rory McIlroy rolled in a 14-foot birdie putt at the fourth hole of a sudden death play-off to edge Ryan Moore for the USPGA Tour Championship and claim the US$10 million (Dh36m) FedExCup play-off bonus.
With the play-off prize and the $1.53 million winner’s cheque, four-time major champion McIlroy earned a total payday of $11.53 million at East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia.
“It was incredible,” said McIlroy, who with his victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship has won $13.81 million in the play-offs. “All I wanted to do at the start of the day was concentrate on winning the Tour Championship. Somehow I was able to tie it up in regulation and get into the play-off.”
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World No 2 Dustin Johnson finished tied for sixth but after coming into the season finale atop the FedExCup standings would have still claimed the play-off bonus if either Moore or Kevin Chappell had won the tournament.
Chappell was eliminated at the first hole of the play-off, the par-five 18th where McIlroy missed a six-foot eagle attempt that would have won it all.
Moore drained a nine-foot birdie putt at the first play-off hole and he and McIlroy returned to play 18 again, both emerging with pars, as they did at the third play-off hole, the par-three 15th.
The fourth play-off hole took them to the par-four 16th, where McIlroy belted a 328-yard drive. Moore had made his par-saving putt when McIlroy stepped up and drained his 14-foot birdie attempt.
McIlroy’s triumph came at the same 16th hole where he surged into the play-off mix by holing out from 140 yards out in the fairway for eagle.
He followed that with a tap-in birdie at 18 to cap a 64 to join Moore, who also carded a 64, and Chappell, who shot a 66, on 12-under-par 268.
“I knew I needed something to happen,” McIlroy said. “I said to myself on the 15th tee, if I can finish with three threes I’ll give myself a chance.
“I didn’t quite think the eagle was going to come as soon as it did,” he added. “But when something like that happens, you have to make the most of it. The holed shots from the fairway, it is part skill, but there’s an epic part of luck in there as well, and I took advantage of it ... A lot of things had to go right for me today, and they did.
“Everything fell into place.”
England’s Paul Casey also posted a 64 to finish alone on 271. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama signed for a 69 for 274.
Johnson, whose three victories this season include his first major title at the US Open, the WGC Bridgestone and the BMW Championship two weeks ago, started the day tied for the lead with Chappell but carded a three-over 73 to finished tied with Justin Thomas on 275.
Moore said it was “a blast” going head to head with McIlroy.
“It was back and forth all day,” he said. “Obviously, Chappell was playing great along the way, too. So just coming down the stretch there, it was fun.”
Chappell, who was looking for his first tour title, said his bogey five at the 17th followed by his par five at the last were his real downfall.
“Played those two holes in 10, probably not going to win too often,” he said. “I gave it all I had and got some good breaks, got some bad breaks there the last couple holes. But I’m proud of the way I fought.
“It just wasn’t enough today.”
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