He's won his last three starts, including two majors and a a WGC event. So is Rory McIlroy the consensus pick to run through the playoffs and win the 2014 FedEx Cup? Our Golf Channel staff weighs in ahead of The Barclays:
By JASON SOBEL
We often hear players contend after a round that they played great but didn't get anything out of it.
Rickie Fowler could say that about his entire season. Not that top-five finishes in each of the four majors is "nothing," but his trophy case still holds just one career PGA Tour trophy.
That could change very soon.
Since its inception, the FedEx Cup has often had a karmic way of maybe not rewarding the year's best player, but allowing for a champion who is overdue to win something big.
The last part of that statement couldn't define Fowler any better. He'll enter this week's Barclays as the 16th-ranked player on the points list, but as we've found in recent years, that's hardly too much ground to overcome.
Fowler has played his best golf on tough venues under high-pressure situations this season. Continuing to do that could reap a $10 million prize very soon.
By REX HOGGARD
The $10 million season-long jackpot of (largely) deferred cash and prizes will go to Rory McIlroy, but not for the reasons that have made the world No. 1 the betting favorite for the better part of two months.
That McIlroy cruises into the FedEx Cup playoffs as the regular-season points leader would make him an easy choice for this year’s season-long race. Despite the looming point reset, the Northern Irishman is the undisputed hottest player on the planet right now having won his last three starts.
But it’s McIlroy’s checkered history with the PGA Tour’s post-season party that gives him the advantage.
In short, karma owes the four-time major champion.
Back in 2012 the 25-year-old was fresh off a similarly dominant run when he entered the playoffs.
McIlroy finished tied for 24th at The Barclays, won the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship and closed out the season with a tie for 10th at the Tour Championship.
For all his hard work McIlroy finished second in the FedEx Cup race to Brandt Snedeker, the victim of the ultimate pencil whipping.
McIlroy should win the playoffs because he is the best player in the game at the moment. That the FedEx Cup math owes him a cosmic make-good, however, makes him a lock.
By RANDALL MELL
Rory McIlroy is a human landslide when he’s playing like this. You’ve just got to get out of the way. His confidence is rolling downhill again, building momentum, wrecking whatever’s in his path.
This is how McIlroy rolls. He wins in giant swaths, and with so many big FedEx Cup events left, don’t expect the landslide to bottom out until after the Ryder Cup and Race to Dubai.
Back in 2012, he made a late-season run like this, winning four times worldwide over four months. He has won his last three starts now, and he seems so much wiser for wear, with hard lessons learned making him capable of even a larger swath of wins.
By WILL GRAY
Listen, we’ve been through this exercise before.
Rory McIlroy entered the FedEx Cup playoffs on top of his game after a major title back in 2012. He even added not one, but two playoff victories that season. Did he leave East Lake with the FedEx Cup? No, that one went to Brandt Snedeker.
While McIlroy is playing the best golf on the planet right now, the volatility of the points race means he’s far from a lock to take home the season-long trophy in four weeks. So don’t be surprised when Jim Furyk takes the FedEx Cup title for the second time.
I know, I know. Furyk isn’t exactly a closer, and he hasn’t won in close to four years. But at No. 5 in points he’s essentially a lock to make it to the Tour Championship, and there’s reason to think he’ll pick up a few good results along the way: he has three runner-ups this year, leads the Tour in scrambling, sits fifth in scoring average and hasn’t finished outside the top 15 since the Memorial.
Furyk knows what it takes to survive this gauntlet, and he’ll do it once again as the victory drought ends at East Lake, where he last lifted a trophy back in 2010.