Best non-major win of Rory's career?
And who's poised to snatch the FedEx Cup title from Rory?
So how impressive was the Northern Irishman's triumph at Crooked Stick? Our experts analyze this and more in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. True or false: Rory McIlroy's BMW Championship win was the best non-major victory of his career.
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: False. His first tour victory in Charlotte two days before his 21st birthday blows this one away. Remember that Sunday charge he made and the shot he hit from the bunker on the 16th hole? I think his victory at the Honda this year might have been better, too.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: True. McIlroy's win at the Honda earlier this year to get to No. 1 for the first time was really big for his career, but to win in back-to-back weeks with Tiger Woods in both fields is an impressive feat.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: True, but it's close. His final-round 62 at Quail Hollow after making the cut on the number was pretty impressive to get his first PGA Tour victory in 2010. But when you consider the all-stars he beat at Crooked Stick -- Mickelson, Woods, Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Scott, Singh -- his win at the BMW is the best.
Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: True. Although his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2010 was impressive coming from making the cut on the number to winning with a final-round 62, the title at Crooked Stick on Sunday simply means more. McIlroy started the day 1 shot off the lead and overtook the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Vijay Singh (among others) to win for the second straight week. He's starting to put a stranglehold on the No. 1 world ranking that he might not relinquish for years to come.
2. Who has the best chance to deny Rory McIlroy the FedEx Cup title and the $10 million bonus?
Michael Collins: The way things have been shaping up, Phil Mickelson. His progression has been slow and steady and is coming to a crescendo at just the right time for both the Tour Championship and the Ryder Cup. If Phil wins the Tour Championship and the Fed Ex Cup, do you think there might be another "tweak" made to the points? I betcha.
Farrell Evans: Tiger Woods is in second place in the cup standings after a T-38, T-4 and a third in the three playoff events. In 2007, Tiger won the Tour Championship with a 23-under par total on his way to winning his first FedEx Cup title. The 14-time major champion has the experience at East Lake to overtake McIlroy to win the playoffs.
Bob Harig: Phil Mickelson. Given the format, anyone in the top five going to East Lake can win the FedEx Cup with a victory, regardless of where Rory finishes. Mickelson has two victories in the Tour Championship at East Lake and is feeling good about his game coming off a tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank and a tie for second at the BMW.
Kevin Maguire: Phil Mickelson. Three weeks ago I'd have never believed it, but Lefty somehow turned in another great showing at the BMW Championship. Since he's fourth in the FedEx Cup points reset heading into the playoffs finale, that means Mickelson controls his own destiny. Another high finish at the Tour Championship -- he won there in 2009 -- could mean a cool $10 million added to his already hefty bank account.
3. Bigger surprise: Phil Mickelson's second straight top-5 finish or Vijay Singh's back-nine Sunday slide?
Michael Collins: Vijay's back-nine slide. For a guy who is such a big health and fitness guy, he sure looked tired and all of his 49 years on the back nine Sunday. Maybe he should have started taking Centrum Silver this year instead of next year.
Farrell Evans: Vijay Singh hasn't won a tournament in four years, and he's 49, but I didn't expect him to shoot 73 on Sunday. Phil Mickelson believes that he can still be No. 1 in the world. So even though it had been May since he last had a top-10 before his tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank, I wasn't surprised that he could have back-to-back good finishes in two of the top fields of the year.
Bob Harig: Singh's slide. While he's had trouble closing all year after putting himself in contention, Crooked Stick was not playing that tough that you'd think he'd shoot 38 on the back nine. Not only did he cost himself a chance at victory, but he did not qualify for the Tour Championship.
Kevin Maguire: Mickelson proved the bigger surprise. Prior to the Deutsche Bank Championship last week, Mickelson had posted just a single top-10 finish since the Masters in April. Everything was going south for the southpaw and he even went to the claw putting grip. Lo and behold, maybe that tweak on the greens was exactly what he needed to jump-start his playoff run.
4. With all the jockeying to finish in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings to advance to the Tour Championship, thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the 2012 playoffs so far?
Michael Collins: Thumbs way up. After wins by Watney and McIlroy twice, with Woods, Mickelson, Singh and Lee Westwood all in the mix this past week? Anyone claiming not to be into the playoffs now just isn't a fan of golf. Unless a mountain lion came out of the trees and started chasing golfers around while a fireworks show was going off and a Broadway musical played in the background, I don't know what else you could want.
Farrell Evans: Despite the near unplayable greens at Bethpage Black in the third round of The Barclays, these have been the best playoffs so far in the six-year history of the series. The high level of play and the star quality of the players on the leaderboards have made these playoffs fun and exciting to watch. To have the No. 1 player in the world win twice doesn't present the Cinderella stories that sometimes come out of playoffs in other sports. But it's all been very compelling with loads of subplots surrounding the Ryder Cup and the scramble for players to get into the top 30 for the Tour Championship.
Bob Harig: A resounding thumbs-up. Regardless of the format, the golf has been compelling, the leaderboards impressive.
Kevin Maguire: In previous years, it might have been a stretch to call the playoffs a huge success. But not this year. It certainly helps when the No. 1 player in the world wins two of the first three playoff tournaments. The fact that Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are all headed to the Tour Championship with the knowledge that a victory clinches them the $10 million bonus must have commissioner Tim Finchem in an ear-to-ear grin.
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