NORTON, Mass. (AP) — A new putting coach. A new putter. The old Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy rallied from six shots behind Monday and closed with a 6-under 65 for a two-shot victory in the Deutsche Bank Championship, the 20th victory of his career worldwide and his first this year on the PGA TOUR.
He was 38th in the FedExCup standings after tying for 31st last weekend at The Barclays, but rose to fourth after his third-career FedExCup Playoffs victory.
“Things can turn around very quickly in this game,” McIlroy said.
In his case, it only took 69 holes. McIlroy, who missed the cut in the PGA Championship and was an afterthought last week when the FedExCup Playoffs began, already was 4-over-par just three holes into this tournament at the TPC Boston. He managed to get back to even par at the end of the opening round, and he was on his way.
He shot 67 on Saturday, 66 on Sunday and then raced by a faltering Paul Casey on Labor Day in strong wind from remnants of Hermine.
McIlroy closed out the front nine with three straight birdies to take the lead for the first time. He regained the lead with a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 12, and then drilled a fairway metal into the wind and over the hazard on the par-5 18th to set up one last birdie from the bunker.
Casey, who started the final round with a three-shot lead in his bid for his first PGA TOUR victory since 2009, closed with a 73. Casey had a 60-foot eagle putt on the final hole that would have forced a playoff. It went 8 feet by and he missed the meaningless birdie putt.
The only consolation for Casey was his runner-up finish moved him from No. 59 to No. 10 in the FedExCup, assuring a spot in the Tour Championship for the first time since 2010. PGA champion Jimmy Walker closed with a 70 to finish third.
The top 70 advance to the BMW Championship, which starts Thursday at Crooked Stick in Indiana. Among those who moved into the top 70 was David Hearn of Canada, who came into the week at No. 92. Hearn closed with a 70 and tied for eighth.
McIlroy, who finished at 15-under 269, moves back to No. 3 in the world.
He fell out of the “Big 3” conversation earlier this year when Dustin Johnson won the U.S. Open, Henrik Stenson won The Open Championship, and McIlroy kept sliding, largely because of his putting. His only victory was the Irish Open in May, and when he missed the cut in the PGA Championship, he sought out popular British putting coach Phil Kenyon. McIlroy also switched putters last week at Bethpage Black, though he was at the bottom of the pack in putting.
Not this week.
He didn’t need to make everything in the final round, with his driving and short game setting up three early birdies. But he made an 18-foot birdie on the par-3 eighth, and followed that with a 10-footer on the ninth to make the turn in 31.
As the wind picked up, no one could stay with him.
Walker was within two of the lead when his drive bounced into the woods right of the 10th fairway and led to bogey, and Walker burned the edges of the cup with so many other birdie attempts. Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore fell back with bogeys on the back nine.
Casey threw away two shots early in the round with a poor chip on the par-5 second hole and a three-putt bogey on the fifth. He missed a par putt from 5 feet on the 11th that put him two shots behind, and he fell back again with another three-putt bogey on the 14th.
McIlroy now has 12 victories on the PGA TOUR, and he takes plenty of momentum to Crooked Stick. Four years ago, McIlroy won at TPC Boston and Crooked Stick in successive tournaments.
“I think those last 15 holes on Friday were definitely a turning point,” McIlroy said. “Not just in this tournament, but maybe in my season.”