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Rory McIlroy
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The Takeaway

Rory McIlroy wins THE PLAYERS by one shot

by Mo Yoshimoto

THE PLAYERS Championship

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

 

Playing out of the penultimate twosome, second-round co-leader and World No. 6 Rory McIlroy erased a one-shot deficit with 2-under-par 37-33=70 in Sunday's final round at TPC Sawgrass for a 72-hole tally of 16-under 272, up one spot on the day and good for a one-shot victory over runner-up Jim Furyk, who shot 67 out of the sixth-to-last twosome.

Two swings back and sharing 3rd-place were non-member Eddie Pepperell and Jhonattan Vegas, who both fired day-tying-low 66s out of the ninth- and eighth-to-last twosomes, respectively.

The Northern Irishman, 29, was a pre-tourney 12/1 co-fave outright and bags his 15th PGA TOUR title in 156 events (155 pro). It’s his first win (anywhere) since a three-shot, come-from-behind win at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational 20 starts and 1 year ago (today) as a 16/1 outright, where he erased a two-shot deficit with a week-tying-low, bogey-free, 8-under 64. Interestingly, that win was also on St. Patrick’s Day weekend and was also out of the penultimate twosome.


Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):

1- (-16, 272) Rory McIlroy (12/1)

2- (-15, 273) Jim Furyk (125/1)

3- (-14, 274) Eddie Pepperell (250/1)

3- (-14, 274) Jhonattan Vegas (175/1)

5- (-13, 275) Dustin Johnson (12/1)

5- (-13, 275) Brandt Snedeker (175/1)

5- (-13, 275) Tommy Fleetwood (28/1)

Notes:

  • Repeat top-10 finishers from last year: Tommy Fleetwood (5-7); Jason Day (8-5)
  • 12/5: McIlroy’s revised outright betting entering the final round.
  • 76: Overnight leader Jon Rahm’s final-round score in his first attempt (on TOUR) as a 54-hole leader/co-leader. He finished T12, five back.
  • 64: Furyk’s R2 score, which tied the low round of the week.
  • 28: McIlroy is the first pre-tourney fave/co-fave to win since Dustin Johnson 28 events and eight months ago at the 2018 RBC Canadian Open.
  • 5: McIlroy is the fifth straight EARLY/late winner of THE PLAYERS and the sixth consecutive to begin R1 off No. 10 tee.

McIlroy (67-65-70-70) records his eighth come-from-behind win (in 14 stroke-play W’s), fourth straight dating to the 2016 Deutsche Bank (TPC Boston), where he was T7 (six back) thru 54 holes and shot 6-under 65 to win by two.

Note: Final-round deficits overcome: 6 shots (x1), 4 shots (x1), 3 shots (x2), 2 shots (x2), 1 shot (x2).

This is McIlroy’s 10th season on TOUR. He turned pro in 2007 and played the 2009 season as a non-member, finishing top 125 on the non-member money list. Ironically, his only missed cut in 2009 (in 11 starts) was THE PLAYERS.

McIlroy’s first win came as a first-time member though not a rookie in 2010 at the Quail Hollow (now Wells Fargo) Championship in his tourney debut, where after making the cut on the number on 1-over (72-73), he played the weekend in 16-under (66-62), the 10-under finale a-then-course-record.

The Jupiter, Florida, resident’s best season wins-wise is 2012, when he won four times in 16 starts, including one major, en route to his first (of two) Player of the Year awards. He also won POY in 2014 when he hoisted a trophy three times, including two majors and one WGC.

Next month, McIlroy will make his fifth attempt for the Career Grand Slam at the Masters. His last four tries read: 5-7-10-4.


PLAYERS Form: 1-MC-35-12-8-6-8-MC-MC-MC

This was McIlroy’s 10th PLAYERS, sixth cash and fifth top 25, first since T12 in 2016, where he shot 64/R2. He missed the cut last year by two (71-74).

It’s his fourth top 10, first since T8 four tries ago in 2015, and prior to this week, had not led or co-led after ANY round on the Pete Dye design.

McIlroy’s R2 65 this week was his second-best lap on the par-72 layout and his scoring average in 32 rounds is now 71.00. It’s the second time that he’s connected four laps in the red (T8/2015).

Season Form: 1-6-2-4-5-4-54

We’re now 20 events into the season with McIlroy teeing it up in seven of them. He played one event in the fall – a T54 at the no-cut WGC-HSBC (China) back in October. McIlroy’s six starts since the calendar flipped to 2019 have all resulted in top 10s, five of those top 5s, beginning the run with T4 in his tourney debut at the Sentry TOC on Maui, where he was 2nd thru 54 holes.

Dating to last year’s win at Bay Hill, this week marked the eighth time – and his third straight start – that he was either 2nd of T2 after 54 holes and finally crossed the finish line.

Quote after R4: “…I think all the experiences I’ve had over the last few weeks in terms of trying to win and not getting over the line definitely helped me today. The fact that this win came at this golf tournament, a tournament where Sawgrass and I didn’t have the greatest relationship starting off, and I’m very thankful to the TOUR for putting it back to March.”


After kicking off with 67-65-70, McIlroy began T2, one back of leader Rahm.

He hit eight (of 14) fairways and 15 greens in regulation, posting 1.726 SG: Off-the-Tee, 1.487 SG: Approach, and -0.446 SG: Around.

McIlroy opened par-par (missed birdie from 7’5”), now tied for the lead on 14-under total after Rahm 3-jacked the first (from 45’2”) for bogey. After hitting his tee ball into the right rough on the par-4 fourth, he took a one-stroke lead (after Rahm squared the third), but promptly hit his second from 128 yards out 117 yards into the water, leading to double bogey-6 and dropping to T4.

McIlroy rejoined a five-way T1 after birdie-3 at six, but dropped back out after bogey at the par-4 seventh (missed par-saver from 6’7”).

He didn’t touch the lead again until a two-putt birdie at the par-5 11th, now T1 with two others, including Pepperell, who up ahead, rammed home a 49’7” birdie bomb at the famed par-3 17th, his third straight circle and seventh of the day.

McIlroy regained the top spot with birdie-3 at 12 from 11’7” for back-to-backs, now leading by one over Pepperell and Vegas, who just made his sixth birdie of the day, an improbable prayer at 17 from 69’7”, the longest put ever made on the island green.

McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 14th (missed par-saver from 5’5”), and was back to T1 with four others, including clubhouse co-leaders Pepperell and Vegas, both IN on 14-under with 66s, and Furyk, who was playing 18.

Furyk hit a laser for his second from 171 yards out to 36 inches and walked off with birdie-3, the new clubhouse leader on 15-under.

At the par-4 15th, McIlroy, bunkered off the tee, hit his second from 177 yards to 13’11” and canned the birdie, now T1 with Furyk,

At the par-5 16th, McIlroy hit a near-perfect drive 347 yards but it ran out into the right rough. He hit his second over the water from 171 yards to 19’0” and two-putted for birdie, his second set of back-to-backs on the inward half, now leading by one.

McIlroy navigated the dangerous 17th and 18th with routine (though nail-biting) pars for the final margin.

In total, he outflanked two bogeys and double bogey-6 with six birdies, recording 1.733 putts per GIR and -1.507 SG: Putting with 32 total putts.

For the week, McIlroy tallied one eagle and 21 birdies against five bogeys and one double.


How McIlroy Won the Tournament:

Ranked 1st (or T1) in: SG: Tee-to-Green; All-Around; Birdie to Bogey Ratio; Par-3 Scoring

Ranked 2nd (or T2) in: SG: Off-the-Tee; Total Bogeys

Note: See “Strokes Gained Leaders Stats” at the bottom, along with his full stats.


Career:

Starts: 156

Cuts Made: 135 (86.5%)

Top 25s: 101 (64.7%)

Top 10s: 73 (46.7%)

Top 3s: 27 (17.3%)

Wins: 15 (9.6%)


73

This was McIlroy’s 73rd top-10 finish, an updated 46.7 percent top-10 strike-rate. By comparison, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson’s strike-rate is 37.6 percent with 93 top 10s in 247 events, while Tiger Woods’ is (an incredible) 55.4 percent with 194 top 10s in 350 events.

McIlroy has now recorded six straight top 10s for the first time in his career, eclipsing his previous best of five consecutive between the 2015 Masters (4th) and the 2015 U.S. Open (T9).


Draw:

A total of 80 players from a field of 144 made the 36-hole cut of 1-under 143:

 

35 (of 71) EARLY/late; 1 WD (Cameron Champ)

45 (of 70) LATE/early; 1 WD (J.J. Spaun); 1 DQ (Wyndham Clark)

 

73 players made the secondary 54-hole cut of even-par 216:

11 players finished in the top 10:

 

EARLY/late (6):

Rory McIlroy (Won); Eddie Pepperell (T3); Dustin Johnson (T5); Tommy Fleetwood (T5); Justin Rose (T8); Brian Harman (T8)

LATE/early (5):

Jim Furyk (2nd); Jhonattan Vegas (T3); Brandt Snedeker (T5); Hideki Matsuyama (T8); Jason Day (T8)

 

Note: McIlroy is the FIFTH straight EARLY/late winner at THE PLAYERS and the sixth straight to begin R1 off No. 10 tee.


11

11 (of 20) tourneys so far this season with a traditional draw:

Winners:

EARLY/late: 6 (McIlroy)

LATE/early: 5


Strength of Field:

With a Strength of Field rating of 882 (up 28 from last year), McIlroy banks 80.00 world-ranking points and bumps two spots to 4thin the Official World Golf Ranking.

OWGR: 4th (up 2)

He earns 600 FEC points, climbing 10 places to 1st in the standings, and knocking Xander Schauffele (MC) to 2nd. Schauffele, who’s won two times this season, had led the standings for the previous four weeks, nine of the last 10 weeks, and 12 weeks overall.

FEC: 1st(up 10)

Note: The last time McIlroy was No. 1 in the FEC standings was after winning the 2016 TOUR Championship and along with it, the FedExCup.


McIlroy’s Position by Round:

R1: T5 (2 back)

R2: T1

R3: T2 (1 back)

Note: McIlroy’s position after 54 holes in last four wins: T2, 3, T3, T7


Leader/co-leaders by Round:

R1: Tommy Fleetwood (finished T5): Drops to 0-for-1 as 18-hole leader/co-leader

R1: Keegan Bradley (T16): Drops to 0-for-5

R2: Tommy Fleetwood (T5): Drops to 0-for-4 as 36-hole leader/co-leader

R2: Rory McIlroy (Won): Improves to 5-for-9

R3: Jon Rahm (T12): Drops to 0-for-1 as 54-hole leader/co-leader


Runner-Up:

Jim Furyk (71-64-71-67): Making his 23rd appearance, first since a MC in 2017, the Ponte Vedra Beach resident records his 10th top 25 and fifth top 10, matching his best of solo 2nd four tries ago in 2014. He was attempting to become the oldest winner of THE PLAYERS.

PLAYERS Form (last 10): 2-MC-35-56-2-MC-25-MC-47-5

The 48-year-old, playing this season on conditional status, was one of the last three to get in this week, checking in off a T9 two weeks ago at the Honda on a sponsor invite. Chasing his 18th TOUR title in 598 events, first since the 2015 RBC Heritage, he claims his 31st runner-up, first since the 2016 U.S. Open (Oakmont CC) in his home state of Pennsylvania.

Season Form: 2-9-37-14-MC-6-MC

OWGR: 57th (up 110)

FEC: 24th (up 47)

Career:

Starts: 598

Top 10s: 188

Top 3s: 65

Runner-up: 31


Field Scoring Average:

This was the 46th edition of THE PLAYERS, 38th and 38th consecutive at TPC Sawgrass.

Note: This was the first PLAYERS held in March since 2006.

Par 72 (36-36)

7,189 yards

 

Cumulative Scoring Average:

R1: 71.80

R2: 71.35

R3: 71.51

R4: 71.26

Total: 71.51

McIlroy: 67-65-70-70

SG: Total: 13.924


Low Rounds:

R1: 65: Tommy Fleetwood, Keegan Bradley

R2: 64: Jim Furyk

R3: 64: Jon Rahm

R4: 66: Eddie Pepperell, Jhonattan Vegas, Emiliano Grillo

 

Bogey-free Rounds:

R1: (6): Tommy Fleetwood (65); Rory McIlroy (67); Vaughn Taylor (67); Rory Sabbatini (68); Kyle Stanley (68_MC); HaoTong Li (69_MC)

R2: (4): Jim Furyk (64); Jason Kokrak (68); Scott Piercy (68); Martin Trainer (69)

R3: (2): Brandt Snedeker (65); Rickie Fowler (68)

R4: (2): Jhonattan Vegas (66); J.T. Poston (70)

 

Multiple Bogey-free Rounds: NONE


TOUR Rookies &/or First-Timers:

Rookies: 5

Top-10 finishes: 0

Best finish(es): T41

 

Martin Trainer: T41 (73-69-72-70)

Season Form: 41-66-MC-1-28-MC-T73/MDF-MC-MC-MC-MC-60

Times Low Rookie: Three (in 12 starts)

Note: Of the five rookies, Trainer was the only one to complete 72 holes.

 

First-Timers: 22

Top-10 finishes: 1

Best finish(es): T3

 

Eddie Pepperell: T3 (72-68-68-66); career-TOUR-best

Season Form: 3-57-67

OWGR: 36th (UP 7)

Note: Non-member’s ninth career TOUR start. Previous best, and only other top 10, was T6 at the 2018 Open Championship (Carnoustie).


Season Leaders in Top-10 Finishes:

6: Rory McIlroy, Gary Woodland

5: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm

4: Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Lucas Glover, Patrick Cantlay, Marc Leishman, Charles Howell III, Scott Piercy

 

Consecutive Top 10s on TOUR:

6: Rory McIlroy (1-6-2-4-5-4)

3: Dustin Johnson (5-1-9)

2: Jim Furyk (2-9)

2: Tommy Fleetwood (5-3)

 

Consecutive Top-10 Streak Ended at:

3: Lucas Glover (MC-10-4-7)

2: Keith Mitchell (47-6-1)

2: Jason Kokrak (47-10-9)

2: Wyndham Clark (DQ-7-10)

2: Sergio Garcia (22-9-6)


McIlroy’s Weekly Stats (ranking of 73 players):

Eagles: 1 (T9)

Birdies: 21 (T5)

Bogeys: 5 (T2)

Double Bogeys: 1 (T21)

Birdie or Better: 30.56% (T4)

Birdie to Bogey Ratio: 3.67 (1st)

Par-3 Scoring: 2.69 (1st)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.95 (T22)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.44 (T7)

Driving Distance (all drives): 295.0 yards (T4)

Driving Accuracy: 33/56 (T49) at 58.93%

GIR: 58/72 (T3) at 80.56%

Proximity: 35’3” (11th)

Putts per GIR: 1.672 (9th)

Total Putts: 116 (T43)

Putts by Round: 27-28-29-32

Scrambling: 8/14 (T40) at 57.14%

All-Around: 1st


Leaders in Strokes Gained Stats:

SG: Off-the-Tee:

1. Tommy Fleetwood (7.261)

2. Rory McIlroy (5.308)

3. Bryson DeChambeau (5.276)

4. Bubba Watson (4.710)

5. Tiger Woods (4.591)

 

SG: Approach-the-Green:

1. Dustin Johnson (9.609)

2. Keegan Bradley (8.330)

3. Nick Taylor (8.153)

4. Matt Kuchar (7.543)

5. Jon Rahm (6.876)

6. Rory McIlroy (6.480)

 

SG: Around-the-Green:

1. Eddie Pepperell (5.650)

2. Ryan Moore (4.684)

3. Gary Woodland (4.264)

4. Martin Trainer (4.177)

5. Scott Piercy (4.013)

25. Rory McIlroy (1.472)

 

SG: Putting:

1. Vaughn Taylor (8.074)

2. Billy Horschel (6.974)

3. Lucas Bjerregaard (6.462)

4. Denny McCarthy (6.009)

5. Tony Finau (5.625)

45. Rory McIlroy (0.662)

 

SG: Tee-to-Green:

1. Rory McIlroy (13.264)

2. Matt Kuchar (11.616)

3. Dustin Johnson (10.980)

4. Keegan Bradley (9.300)

5. Tommy Fleetwood (9.212)


20

Season Winners (20):

8 winners were in their 20s (McIlroy age: 29)

9 were in their 30s

3 were in their 40s


28

McIlroy is first pre-tourney fave/co-fave to win this season and the first since Dustin Johnson 28 events ago.

Most Recent (before this week):

Johnson (11/2): 2018 RBC Canadian Open

This week, DJ was a co-fave alongside McIlroy, and finished T5 (69-68-69-69). The 34-year-old, who checked in off his 20th TOUR win at the WGC-Mexico three weeks ago, remained World No. 1, and is the first golfer to record four rounds in the 60s at THE PLAYERS since Steve Elkington in 1997. This was the Jupiter, Florida, resident’s first top 10 in 11 tries, though third straight top 25.

PLAYERS Form: 5-17-12-28-69-59-WD-57-34-79/MDF-MC

Season Form: 5-1-9-45-4-30

OWGR: 1st (no change)

FEC: 9th (up 1)

 

 

 

 

 

Mo Yoshimoto
You can find Mo on Twitter @Bears3423.