That means McIlroy will miss next week’s first event of the FedEx Cup play-off series, the Barclays Championship in New Jersey, but will return for the following week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and then play the last two events. McIlroy’s aim will be to scoop the $ 10 million (£6.38 million) bonus which goes to the FedEx points winner at the end of the Tour Championship in Atlanta on Sept 27.
McIlroy will only take a two-week break before turning out again at the Frys.com Open in California and after that will head back to the European Tour in his attempt to win the Race to Dubai for the third time in four years.
McIlroy might even play in the four events which comprise the Final Series, starting with the Turkish Airlines Open which begins in Belek just 12 days after the Frys.com Open. There follow two tournaments in China before the finale in the UAE. After that merry lot, McIlroy would probably need a long lie down before a 2016 season which the game hopes will see the Ulsterman embroiled in a fight for golfing dominance with Jordan Spieth.
The 22-year-old was in the final group here on Sunday trying to become just the third player in history to win three majors in a season and the first to win the three US majors in a season. After seven holes, Spieth had lost ground to the Australian Jason Day, who with some inspired putting – including a 50-footer on the seventh – had moved four clear of his playing partner courtesy of four birdies which took him to 19-under.
Branden Grace, the South African, had taken over as the nearest pursuer at the stage, going through the first seven in four-under to close within three. Five off the pace was Justin Rose, in his mission to become the first English winner of the US PGA in 96 years.
How McIlroy would have craved to be in that battle and how Ireland would have loved to be cheering him own. However, at least one countryman was willing on Spieth. “What this game thrives on is rivalry and I think I for one am pulling for Jordan,” Paul McGinley said. ”As much as I am a Rory fan and I want to see Rory win majors, I am also supporting Jordan because I know Jordan is going to push Rory. It is good for the game and the sport of golf and it is healthy for both of the players.”
McGinley is adamant that on his day, McIlroy will have the measure of not just Spieth but Day as well. “I think everyone would agree that Rory has a different gear to everyone else in terms of the long game,” McGinley told www.irishgolfdesk.com.
“But Jordan also has a different gear in terms of the short game. And it’s not just Jordan – you have to fancy Jason Day too. Looking at his physique, you’d think it was his length that was his strength but the strength of his game is his short game. And when you combine that with his length off the tee, it’s a very good combo when it comes to majors What’s great for Rory in all of this is that he’s being driven forward. That’s been proved in every other sport, not just golf.
“Has Rory got an X factor Spieth and Day don’t have? He certainly has it in the long game. We saw it in the first round here when he was the only one to hit it pin high on the second into that right to left wind. Nobody else in the game can do that. We have seen him go away from fields and go into overdrive. We saw it in Quail Hollow this year when he shot that 61 on Saturday and won by seven.
“He has that extra gift to go into overdrive to pull away that the other guys don’t have but they will pose a challenge and that’s always been something Rory has thrived on. One of the things that Rory has done in his whole career is respond very strongly to challenges. He is going to react well to this again. I am looking on it as a real positive.”
Having gone through the first five holes in four under in Saturday’s 68 – “a dream start” as he put it – McIlroy could not trap so quickly this time. Ironically, it was a bogey on the sixth which stalled his third-round charge; a day later he birdied the short par four, holing from 10ft. On the 227-yard seventh, his putter consented again, this time from 20ft. There was another birdie on the 10th, where he almost drove the green, but a bogey on the 13th curtailed his progress.
Lee Westwood closed out a disappointing major season with a 72 for two-under which left him outside the top 35. This was the first time in eight years that the 42-year-old failed to record a major top 10. One shot ahead with three remaining was another Englishman in Luke Donald, while Paul Casey was level with Westwood with six remaining.