ATLANTA (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy’s bid to add several exclamation points to his brilliant PGA Tour season was derailed at the Tour Championship on Sunday as the world number one succumbed to mental fatigue after a hectic 10-week run.
Competing in his eighth tournament during that time, McIlroy had to settle for a share of second place after his title challenge was effectively scuppered by a double at the sixth, followed by three consecutive bogeys from the ninth.
McIlroy, who has two major titles among his four wins worldwide this year, began the final round at East Lake Golf Club tied for the lead with eventual winner Billy Horschel but fell off the pace as he closed with a one-over-par 71.
“I am tired,” the Northern Irishman told reporters after ending his round with three consecutive birdies from the 15th to finish at eight-under 272, level with veteran American Jim Furyk.
“I’m looking forward to a few days off and not seeing my golf clubs for a little while, and then when I’m ready and I’m excited to get back out again, get ready for the Ryder Cup.”
The 40th Ryder Cup will be played at Gleneagles in Scotland from Sept. 26-28.
McIlroy, who said his fatigue had been mental and not physical, felt he had paid a price for competing in all four FedExcup playoff events, which were held in back-to-back weeks to conclude the 2013-14 PGA Tour season.
“It’s been a long four weeks,” said the 25-year-old, who won consecutive majors this season at the British Open and PGA Championship, sandwiched around his victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“You know, if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have taken a week off somewhere in this stretch of tournaments.
“But it’s tough because these sponsors ... they’re putting up an awful lot of money to get the best players in the world there to their event.”
McIlroy, a heavy favorite to land Player of the Year honors for the 2013-14 PGA Tour, had specifically targeted victory at this week’s Tour Championship, along with FedExCup playoff honors, as he has never before landed either title.
“I really wanted to win,” he said. “I really wanted to cap this year off well, even though it’s still been a great year.
“I was coming in here with really high hopes and expectations, and I haven’t quite been able to play the golf to live up to those. But it’s still been a great season for me, and there’s still a little bit of golf left.”
McIlroy paid tribute to Horschel, his playing partner for the last two rounds at East Lake who wrapped up FedExCup honors and the mind-boggling $10 million bonus by winning the last two playoff events.
“He was very solid,” said McIlroy, who was outscored by the American by three shots in the final round. “Today he didn’t really put a foot wrong.
“When he needed to, he could produce the shots.”
Editing by Gene Cherry