The hangover was much shorter after he picked up his second major last month.
In his second tournament since winning at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by eight strokes, McIlroy shot a final-round 67 to win the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday. McIlroy finished at 20-under-par, one stroke ahead of Luis Oosthuizen and two in front of Tiger Woods, to earn his third victory of the year, move to the top of the FedEx Cup standings and establish himself as the favourite for the PGA’s player of the year.
“He’s not No. 1 in the world for nothing,” said Oosthuizen, who led by three strokes heading into the day but fell to second with a double bogey on No. 5.
“He’s a great young talent, with a lot of majors left for him to win. He’s such a cool kid on the course. He makes tough shots look really easy sometimes.”
McIlroy won the U.S. Open last year for his first victory in a major and then took some time off for the commitments — and celebration — that followed. He struggled when he returned, including a 25th at the British Open and a 64th at the PGA Championship, before righting himself with a slew of top-five finishes.
“I had a lot going on at that time, and probably didn’t handle it the best,” McIlroy said after claiming a check for $1.44 million. “I’ve learned how to handle winning big events and carrying myself forward and not dwelling on what’s happened.
McIlroy added: “This run that we’re on, we just have to keep thinking about the next week, and once Ryder Cup is over, for sure I’ll think back and I’ll celebrate and I’ll enjoy the great golf that I’ve played over the last few weeks.”
Tiger Woods, who won in Boston in 2006, never got closer than three shots until a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th gave him a 66 — good for third place and a check for $544,000 that made him the first $100 million man on the PGA Tour
. Woods has earned $100,350,700; next on the list is Phil Mickelson — more than $30 million behind at $66,805,498 after finishing fourth at the Deutsche Bank.
“The purse increase helps,” Woods said. “I won fewer tournaments than Sam Snead has, but obviously he was in a different era. It’s just that we happened to time it up right and happened to play well when the purses really had a nice spike up.”
McIlroy had a three-shot lead with six holes to play, but needed a bogey putt on the 17th to stay in front after Oosthuizen, despite pain in his right shoulder, came back with two birdies to get within one.
McIlroy hit a chip shot over the 17th green into more rough, but Oosthuizen missed the green from 140 yards in the fairway, chipped poorly to 10 feet and missed his par putt. McIlroy calmly sank his 5-foot bogey putt to stay one shot ahead.
“I had a couple of wobbles coming in,” McIlroy said.