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2016 PGA TOUR Championship & FedExCup Finale Recap

When Rory’s Sunday storm at the Deutsche Bank netted him his first PGA TOUR win of 2015-2016 some weeks ago, we posited that Mr. McIlroy might be back.

Well, he eliminated all doubt Sunday afternoon.

Needing a TOUR Championship victory and a T-2 or worse finish by DJ to grab the FedExCup Championship and all ten million of its trappings, McIlroy entered Sunday three shots off the shared lead of Kevin Chappell and red-hot Dustin Johnson.

Thankfully for Rory, DJ did his part, going ice cold and shooting a worst-of-the-day 73 to finish T-6.

DJ’s regression left the door open on the back-9 for Chappell to grab his first Tour win, overcoming his reputations as permanent bridesmaid. Ryan Moore, the quiet veteran who often goes overlooked in place of bigger hitters and bolder personalities, showed his resolve, playing alongside Rory and a group ahead of Chappell.

It would be McIlroy’s lights out back-9 30 that would be the difference, though, closing in on the lead in the final 3-holes of regulation.

First, he did this at 16:

Then followed it with short-game precision at the 18th:

Following Rory’s -12 finish, both Moore and Chappell had putts to win the TOUR Championship and give the FedExCup to Dustin Johnson, but neither could convert their birdie putt. Moore’s lipped out, while a nervy Chappell left his 4-feet short.

THE PLAYOFF

All three competitors headed to the reachable Par-5 18th with eagle on the brain, though only Rory was able to give himself a shot. Following a 357-yard drive that ran through the end of the fairway, McIlroy hit his second to 6 feet, setting up an uphill, right-to-left breaking putt that any PGA Tour pro would salivate over.

It was not to be though. Working quickly following a CLUTCH birdie putt by Moore, McIlroy, who the broadcast team speculated maybe rushed his putt to avoid overthinking it, missed his eagle opportunity, sending he and Moore back to the tee box. Chappell’s poor drive ultimately resulted in a par and his elimination.

TO 18 AGAIN

Rory’s booming draw found the left rough this time, as did Moore’s (who was a good distance back), eliminating eagle and forcing a layup. Both players played crafty punch-outs to set up wedge attempts, but again, neither could seal the deal with a lengthy birdie putt.

ON TO 15

Following the three straight attempts at winning on the 18th, the competitors headed to the long, forced-carry 15th. Playing at 201 yards with a front pin, this hole is probably the last thing two players want to see in this tough situation.

Nevertheless, Moore took dead aim at the stick, missing his number by less than a foot, but staying up on the edge. He’d have a sticky, but makeable chip shot and would ultimately settle for par. McIlroy, on the other hand, took a 6-iron (he had played a 7-iron in regulation) and hit the back-center of the green. His lag putt came up short, but he converted his tester-length roll to make par.

THE FINALE’S FINALE

Both competitors found the 16th’s fairway, with Rory’s bombing drive (and incredibly daring line) giving him just a wedge into the green. Moore found the surface with his second, as did Rory, but Moore’s position on the wrong side of a ridge took birdie out of play. Choosing to chip it from the fringe instead of roll it, Moore misjudged his pace and left himself a long par putt. So long, in fact, that he was outside of Rory.

Nothing but the bottom of the cup.

But Rory still had a birdie look, and it would all come down to Rory’s putting. Again.

Rory’s uphill birdie turned a “lost season” into an $11.53 million windfall and added to his ever-increasing list of accomplishments. He’ll have to return to Georgia for the last big one he needs to check off, but that’s a story for another day.

With a new putter and new coach, Rory found his old results.

And unfortunately for the rest of the Tour, it looks like they’ll be finding his name above theirs on the leaderboard again.

EXTRAS

• Ryan Moore finished the year hot, playing to 57-under-par since the PGA Championship. His solid play and fine form was enough to get Davis Love III’s attention. Hours after the finish, he was announced as the 12th and final member of the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. His strong match play record, dating back to his amateur days and all the way up to this year’s WGC-Match Play 5th place finish, should serve him well.

• Playing alone on Saturday and Sunday, Kevin Na (who’s been universally criticized for his slow pace of play), played in just under 2 hours. At one point, both he and his caddie were jogging between holes. But don’t criticize him for not trying: he finished with four straight birdies, and shot his best round of the week on Sunday.

• With his T-6 finish, Dustin Johnson was unable to capture the FedExCup Championship, instead finishing in second place in the overall standings. He is, however, all but assured the 2015-2016 PGA Tour Player of the Year title, which is voted on by his peers. He finished the season with 3 victories (including the U.S. Open), 15 Top-10s, 19 Top-25s, and only missed one cut. He earned $9,365,185 on course, which led the Tour. He also led in scoring average at 69.172 and in total eagles with 16.

• The 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine starts Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:35AM CST.

Featured Image: PGA Tour

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