Spieth targets prize in McIlroy absence

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Jordan Spieth believes the destiny of the overall FedEx Cup title and USD10million (£7.4million) bonus could depend on this year’s Rory McIlroy.

Any of the 30 players in the season-ending Tour Championship can theoretically win the massive pay day in Atlanta, but only the top five are assured of doing so by claiming the USD1.53million (£1.1million) first prize at East Lake.

McIlroy, who has failed to qualify this season, was sixth in the standings 12 months ago and needed to win the Tour Championship and see FedEx Cup leader Dustin Johnson finish worse than outright second.

Johnson finished tied for sixth and could only look on as McIlroy defeated Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell in a play-off to become FedEx Cup champion, leaving Johnson to settle for “just” a USD3million bonus.

“I think there’s a likelihood that I’ll be in that situation this year,” said Open champion Spieth, who leads US PGA winner Justin Thomas by 200 points in the reset standings, with Johnson, Marc Leishman and Rickie Fowler the other players in control of their own destiny.

“I don’t know who the Rory will be. It’s tough. It doesn’t happen anywhere else. It’s like having a USD7million bet on a fight that you’re not even taking part in.

“It’s like I would be really nervous, but at that point I’m already out of the tournament, so I could probably have a few beers to calm me down, I don’t know.

“I remember we were actually watching it (last year), we were on the plane with Phil (Mickelson) going to the Ryder Cup already while it was going on and I remember sitting there thinking, ‘Where is DJ right now?’

“Obviously he’s here, he’s sticking around. Is he by himself, is he surrounded with people, is he going to celebrate if Ryan wins?

“I imagine if somebody else made a putt for me to win a difference of seven million, I’ll probably celebrate accordingly with a scream or a fist pump or something. But it’s an odd scenario so I hope I can go out there and control it myself.

“That’s obviously the goal, but if not, it sounds kind of fun.”