What We Learned: BMW Championship


Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, we focus on Rory McIlroy's continued dominance in the FedEx Cup playoffs as he cruised to a two-shot victory at the BMW Championship to win for the second time in his last three starts.

Rory McIlroy is making his fellow pros edgy. You sense it in their awkward answers to questions about his growing dominance.

He’s getting so good so fast now that it’s hard for fellow pros to know just how high he’s going to raise the ceiling. He’s pulling away from everybody else now in some of the best fields in golf and on some of the most loaded leaderboards of the year.

Maybe this is just an extraordinary streak. Maybe he’ll never be this hot again. Maybe he’s just getting warmed up. All of those possibilities hang over his competition in this run.

With back-to-back victories, and three titles in his last four starts, McIlroy is establishing a standard that puts pressure on his peers. Going into the offseason, they aren’t quite sure how good they’re going to have to get to take the game’s biggest prizes from this 23-year-old rising star.– Randall Mell

Lee Westwood isn’t particularly fond of answering questions about Rory McIlroy. Westwood stood there Sunday at Crooked Stick, after playing alongside McIlroy, and answered each question nicely. He wasn’t rude. But you could sense that Westwood was a little miffed because the new kid is hogging so much of the game’s attention. McIlroy has won majors, Westwood hasn’t. McIlroy has won multiple PGA Tour events just this year, Westwood has a career total of two. McIlroy is 23 and has the world in the palm of his hands, Westwood doesn’t. All are reasons why Europe’s elder statesman is perfectly qualified to answer questions about Europe’s new sensation. Even if he doesn’t want to. – Jay Coffin

I learned that it’s good to be Rory McIlroy right now. OK, so maybe I – along with everyone else – knew that already, but let me count the ways. He’s 23, personable, humble, dates an attractive tennis star and just happens to be the best golfer in the world. It’s enough to make the rest of our throw our arms up in disgust and wonder where it all went wrong. As if that’s not enough, the kid’s rich! In the past seven days alone, his two wins have netted $2.88 million. That’s $411,428 per day, $17,143 per hour and $286 per minute. Of course, that’s just the good news. The bad news is that he’ll need to budget his money this week with no tourney on the schedule. Good thing there’s a $10 million prize at the end of the FedEx Cup rainbow next week – and he’s right in the driver’s seat to collect that one, too. – Jason Sobel

I learned that the European side, despite being a slight underdog on paper, will give the U.S. team all it can handle later this month at the Ryder Cup. Perhaps you knew that already. After all, the Europeans have Rory McIlroy, the world No. 1, Ryder Cup stalwart Luke Donald, ball-striking machine Lee Westwood and fearsome closer Graeme McDowell. But there’s more. Since qualifying ended on Aug. 19, Euro team members have won six times on either the PGA or European Tours, a fact punctuated by spectacular Sunday performances by both McIlroy and Peter Hanson. McIlroy reinforced the belief that he’s the best player on the planet, breezing past some of the big names in the sport at the BMW Championship. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, an emotional Hanson eagled the last hole to win the KLM Open, despite nearly withdrawing after learning that his 1-year-old son remained hospitalized in Florida with a serious respiratory illness. Every week, it seems, a European Ryder Cupper is proving his worth. Sorry, remind me again: Which side is favored at Medinah? – Ryan Lavner

Crooked Stick should be here to stay. The golf-starved Indiana faithful deserve a regular “Big League” stop. If Sunday’s star-studded leaderboard is any indication, Crooked Stick is a worthy championship test, but not at the expense of an annual tournament in Chicago. It is a mystery of marketing that the nation’s second-largest market doesn’t have a PGA Tour event. – Rex Hoggard