Money not motivation as Rory McIlroy chases FedEx

There are six million reasons to want to win the FedEx Cup title, but Rory McIlroy insists he needs just one.
Rory McIlroy: Victory at East Lake would earn him a 6m bonus. Picture: GettyRory McIlroy: Victory at East Lake would earn him a 6m bonus. Picture: Getty
Rory McIlroy: Victory at East Lake would earn him a 6m bonus. Picture: Getty

“The money is great but at the same time it’s the title that would mean more to me,” McIlroy said ahead of this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The 25-year-old is one of five players who know victory at East Lake would also see them secure the overall FedEx Cup title won by Sweden’s Henrik Stenson last year, and with it a $10million (£6million) bonus.

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“It’s good being in the top five, you know what you need to do,” said McIlroy, who is fourth behind Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel and Bubba Watson. Hunter Mahan is fifth. “You need to win and that takes care of everything. Being in the top five was important coming in, I would have liked to be a bit higher on the list but haven’t played well enough over the past few weeks.”

McIlroy won his fourth major title, and third tournament in succession, in the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, and has ­finished 22nd, fifth and eighth in the first three play-offs, ­despite four-putting the 12th hole in each of the last two rounds last week.

The packed schedule has led to complaints from some players and a promise from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem that a break between events would be reinstated next year, but McIlroy found a more simple solution to fatigue.

“It’s amazing what a night in your own bed can do, just one night,” the world No 1 said. “I was standing in the shower on Monday morning in Denver thinking to myself why am I going to Atlanta today? So I didn’t, I went to Florida for a day and a half and it was really good.

“It was refreshing to spend a bit of time at home, dump a lot of luggage that I’ve been carrying with me for the last four or five weeks. I had a great practice session at the Bear’s Club and was able to work out in the gym at home. I feel really good coming in here. I feel like that day and a half at home will definitely help and anything other than a win here would definitely be a ­disappointment.

“After I finished the PGA all my focus was on the FedEx Cup and trying to win this . . . obviously if I finish second or third and end up winning the whole thing, that’s cool as well!

“I don’t think it [the money] will make me any more nervous on the golf course on Sunday. Ten million is a lot of money to anyone and if I’m thinking of getting myself something or whatever it’s a nice bit of extra money to have.

“I’m not saying I am motivated by the money in any way. It’s obviously nice and I have made a lot of money over the past seven or eight years, but it [winning the FedEx] is one of the only things I have not achieved in the game of golf and that’s the real reason I want to win this week.”

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In theory all 29 players at East Lake – Dustin Johnson qualified but is taking a leave of absence – have the chance to win the overall title. But only those in the top five control their own destiny and can emulate Stenson, who led from start to finish 12 months ago and later became the first player to also win the Race to Dubai in the same season.