By Brody Franzen
In the wake of his second major victory at the PGA Championship just weeks ago, Rory McIlroy was able to hold off the field at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston to secure his fifth PGA Tour win. The Labor Day finish in Boston proved to be one of the most exciting shootouts of the year, as McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen competed in an intense duel for the victory. McIlroy, who started the fourth round three strokes behind Oosthuizen, shot a four-under 67, winning by a one-shot margin.
With both the BMW Championship and the announcement of U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Davis Love III’s Captain’s Picks looming over the heads of the players, Monday proved to be a day of high octane and low numbers. Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan, both on the supposed “bubble” of the Ryder Cup roster, shot 70 and 71 respectively, with Furyk finishing the higher of the two at T13.
Also trying to solidify their chances of being picked by DL3 were Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, both finishing inside the top 10, 14-under and 13-under, respectively. Both are suspected to be announced on Tuesday as members of the team, not only because of their top FedExCup rankings, but also because of the assets that they would provide for the team at Medinah– Johnson’s distance and Snedeker’s precision on the greens.
Throughout the course of the final rounds, McIlroy himself showed a level of ultimate precision and focus, reminiscent of a younger Tiger Woods. Woods, who like McIlroy started the final round chasing Oosthuizen, had a goal in mind to mount a strong charge early in hopes of creeping up on the leaders. Although he completed the turn with a commanding 32, Tiger was unable to convert as many birdie opportunities on the back nine, finishing with an 34. Placing solo third at 18-under, Tiger was unable to find victory, but still carded his best total performance since the 2009 BMW Championship, (64-68-68-66) showing a strong upward trend of improvement.
Up until the last few holes on the back nine, the field was essentially unable to catch Rory, as he was pin-hunting with almost robotic fashion. Describing one of McIlroy’s laser-like approaches that sat down just feet from the hole, broadcaster Johnny Miller quipped, [his approach shots fall at pins] “like hacky-sacks.”
As he made his way to the 18th Tee, McIlroy found himself only one ahead of Oosthuizen, after both made careless bogies on the No. 17. On the green of the newly redesigned 18th hole, Oosthuizen barely missed a downhill birdie putt from 12 feet away that would have forced a playoff with McIlroy.
After initially saying that it was not the way he planned to win, McIlroy later said in his press conference that, “At the end of the day you just want your name to finish on the top of that list, and it doesn’t matter whoever it is below you.” Oosthuizen, although experiencing such a heartbreaking loss, said, “All in all, I’m very happy with the week. There’s two more big events left, and I’m very happy with the way I’m hitting the ball going into those tournaments.”
Not just for Louis and Rory, but for the rest of the Top 70 players in the FedEx Cup Rankings as well, this week was a precursor for things soon to come, as the FedExCup kicks into high gear.