Rory McIlroy has had an underrated season, and he can cap it off with a profound win Sunday at the Tour Championship.
McIlroy, ranked fifth in the world, has eight top-6 finishes this season, including a win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the runner-up finish at the Open Championship.
Once hailed the second coming to Tiger Woods, McIlroy will get a chance to chase down the 14-time major champion Sunday while playing alongside him.
McIlroy shot a 4-under 66 Saturday to get into a tie for second at 9 under with world No. 1 Justin Rose, three shots behind Woods’ lead. While all eyes will be on Woods’ attempt to win for the first time since 2013, McIlroy is only concerned with himself.
“All I can do is worry about myself,” McIlroy said. “It doesn’t matter who it is I’m playing with. It’s obviously exciting for the golf tournament. It’s exciting for golf in general that he’s up there. But for me, all I can do is concentrate on myself. The game is hard enough without having to — without looking at other people. Go out there, take care of my business, and hopefully that’s good enough.”
Having already won the 2015 FedEx Cup, McIlroy knows what it takes to endure a marathon season. A golfer’s career is rarely summed up in one week, and McIlroy isn’t worried about tracking Woods on Sunday.
“I’ve been guilty of looking around before, and it hasn’t paid off,” McIlroy said. “You know, all I can do — I’ll obviously still watch leaderboards, I’ll still look at where I’m at in relation to the field and to the lead, but I can’t — I have to just, first and foremost, focus on what I can do, fairways, greens, hit good putts, and just try and repeat that.
McIlroy said it’s always hard to win on the PGA Tour, especially when trying to come from behind.
“I think it’s the same regardless of who it is in the lead,” McIlroy said. “You’re going out to try and shoot a good score. And whether that score holds up at the end of the day or not, again, it’s just about focusing on yourself. Look, he’s a notoriously great front-runner, but if I go out and I play similar tomorrow like I did today, I’ll have no complaints.”