Rory McIlroy, the strongest voice for the PGA Tour in a tumultuous year, had the final say with his clubs Sunday when he rallied from six shots behind to win the Tour Championship and capture the FedEx Cup for the third time.
McIlroy won $18 million, pushing his PGA Tour earnings to over $26 million for the season. He closed with a 4-under 66 to overtake Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who made only one birdie in a 73.
Sungjae Im fell back with a double bogey on the 14th hole and still managed a 66 to tie for second with Scheffler.
McIlroy referred to the final round of a “spectacle,” and not just because of the pro-McIlroy crowd that chanted his name along the closing holes.
“Two of the best players in the world going head on the best tour,” he said.
McIlroy needed plenty of help from Scheffler, the No. 1 seed, who began with a two-shot lead and never trailed until the 70th hole. Scheffler, who birdied four of six holes Sunday morning to finish the third round and build a six-shot lead, lost it in the first seven holes.
And then it was a nail-biter to the very end, a stunning afternoon at East Lake that turned on two shots.
McIlroy holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th hole to tie for the lead. After he flew the green by some 20 yards, his pitch was running fast and headed off the front of the green when it hit the pin and settled 7 feet away.
He saved par. Scheffler missed his 10-footer and took bogey, and they matched pars the rest of the way.
Scheffler’s 4-iron on the par-5 18th sailed short and right and into a bunker, and he blasted out over the green. McIlroy went left against the grandstand, took relief and got onto the green for an easy par.
McIlroy won in 2016 in a playoff. He won the FedEx Cup again in 2019, the first year of a staggered start. But this might have been the sweetest of fall, coming off a year in which the PGA Tour has been in a nasty battle for players with Saudi-funded LIV Golf.
It was McIlroy who has declared fierce loyalty to the PGA Tour over the last few years, and who joined Tiger Woods in leading a momentous player-only meeting last week that led to significant changes ahead.
“I believe in the game of golf. I believe in this tour, in particular. I believe in the players on this tour,” McIlroy said in the trophy presentation. “It’s the greatest place in the world to play golf, bar none, and I’ve played all over.”
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., the lone Canadian in the event, shot 67 on Sunday to finish 26th at 3 under.