As he gears up for his shot at the FedExCup crown, Rory McIlroy believes time is catching up with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, both absent from this season’s PGA Tour closer, saying the pair are in the ‘last few holes of their career’.
He may have a point. Phil Mickelson is absent from the Tour Championship in Atlanta for the first time in the FedExCup era, and Tiger Woods has only played eight events this year, two of which he withdrew from.
The Northern Irishman doesn’t believe we are witnessing a total shift in power in the game, but there is no doubt that McIlroy, a two-time major winner this year, is the man to beat at the moment.
“They're just getting older,” said the world No.1 “Phil's 43 or whatever he is and Tiger's nearly 40.
“They're getting into the sort of last few holes of their career, that's what happens. You get injured.
“Phil has to deal with an arthritic condition as well. So it obviously just gets harder as you get older. I'll be able to tell you in 20 years how it feels.”
"They're getting into the sort of last few holes of their career." - Rory McIlroy
Despite their age, McIlroy is well aware the two still pose a threat to his position on tour, and he expects the pair to be around for a few years yet.
“Phil has played well in parts this year,” said the 25-year-old. “He came really close to winning the PGA. I feel like he's gotten a little better as the year has went on.
But it's a lot of golf for him to play in such a short space of time. So you could see he was getting a little tired the last couple of weeks.
“Tiger's not here just because he's been injured or he is injured. He hasn't had the opportunity to play. I think if he gets back to full fitness you'll see him back here again.”
Rory McIlroy not focused on FedExCup money
So far this year, Rory McIlroy has won $7,572,096 in prize money, having won four of the biggest events on tour.
This season he has claimed the BMW PGA Championship, the Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and most recently, the PGA Championship.
"It's the title that would mean more to me." - Rory McIlroy
Although he’s had more than his fair share of prize money and victories, he maintains the glory of winning the FedExCup is what drives him, not the $10,000,000 bonus.
“One of the only things that I haven't achieved in the game of golf is a FedExCup,” said McIlroy. “That's the real reason that I want to win this week.
“I just want to finish the year off well. The money's nice, it's great, but at the same time it's the title that would mean more to me.”