McIlroy ready to call time on ‘old men’ Woods and Mickelson


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The Independent Online

Golf is a young man’s game according to Rory McIlroy, scanning the scene in Atlanta where the FedEx Cup Play-offs begin on Thursday without, for the first time, either Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson.

The twin pillars of the American golf establishment have been sidelined through injury and poor form, the latter withdrawing from the BMW Championship in Denver last week on the grounds that he could not progress to this week’s 30-man FedEx finale and needed to rest up ahead of the Ryder Cup.

“They’re just getting older,” McIlroy said. “Phil’s 43 or whatever [he is 44] and Tiger’s nearly 40 [he will be 39 in December]. So they’re getting into the sort of last few holes of their careers. That’s what happens. It obviously just gets harder as you get older. I’ll be able to tell you in 20 years how it feels.”

The prestige that comes with winning rather than loot gets 25-year-old McIlroy out of bed these days, not that he would ever pass up a £6m jackpot. That is the bonus coming McIlroy’s way should he win at East Lake this week. Indeed a third-place finish would be sufficient to claim the big prize should results fall his way.

Winning the FedEx, the last event of the regular PGA Tour season, was a target for McIlroy after the hat-trick of wins in July and August at the Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship. Having finished runner-up two years ago, it would seal a majestic summer for McIlroy ahead of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in a fortnight.

“Anything other than a win here would be a disappointment,” he said. “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 [bonus prize], then that’s cool as well. I mean, I want to win. I only have to beat 28 other guys. It’s not like a regular field where you have to beat 155.”

McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team-mate Thomas Bjorn contests the KLM Open in the Netherlands this week to fine-tune his game ahead of Gleneagles. “It’s not fitted in my schedule for a few years but this year I felt like I’m in a position where I need to play a bit of tournament golf and get myself ready for a couple of weeks’ time,” he said. “I didn’t play particularly well last week [in Switzerland] but my game is improving and I’m using these weeks to get my game ready.”

Defending champion Joost Luiten will look to put the disappointment of missing out on the Ryder Cup behind him in the KLM Open in Kennemer. He was one of the contenders for a wild card, with European captain Paul McGinley impressed by his performance in the EurAsia Cup this year.

But the 28-year-old saw his form drop in recent months and McGinley chose Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood as his three wild-card picks. Luiten finished a shot behind Gallacher in the Italian Open last month on his previous appearance.