It’s a long season—44 tournaments, covering 11 months, 19 states and eight countries.
But finishing on top of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup points standings when that grind is completed has never been a sure path to holding aloft the FedExCup Trophy and envisioning how to spend the $25 million that comes with winning at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club.
When Scottie Scheffler won the 2022 Masters to take over first place on the FedExCup points list, he started a reign of 23 consecutive weeks at the top. Second place changed hands eight times, with Hideki Matsuyama, Sam Burns, and Cameron Smith taking turns.
None of them came within 230 points of Scheffler and his lead was as high as 1,290 points.
Yet, when it was over on a sultry Georgia day in August, it was Rory McIlroy who had the shiny trophy and the fat check—despite going off the first tee in the first round six shots in arrears of Scheffler under the TOUR’s “starting strokes” format it adopted in 2019—which McIlroy has overcome twice to beat regular-season FedExCup champions for the big prize.
It was the 13th time in 16 years of the FedExCup in which the regular-season champion failed to close at East Lake, and it hadn’t happened since Jordan Spieth in 2015.
Scheffler missed the cut in the first playoff event, the FedEx St. Jude Classic, to fall out of first place. He regained his lead with a tie for third the following week at the BMW Championship and began the TOUR Championship with a two-shot head start on defending champion Patrick Cantlay, who had become the fourth player to hold second place behind Scheffler during the season.
But with the help of a 63-66 weekend (and Scheffler’s 66-73), McIlroy outscored Scheffler by seven on the raw score and by one for the net result to become the first player to win the FedExCup three times, breaking a tie with Tiger Woods.
And that’s all it took to undo nearly six months on top—one shot, out of the nearly 11,000 the two combined to hit in stroke-play competition on the PGA TOUR last season.
It’s what agonized Scheffler more than any difference in McIlroy’s $2.25 million difference in earnings for his come-from-behind victory.
“The money didn’t creep into my mind,” Scheffler said. “I wanted to win the season-long title. I’ve had a really great year and I wanted to finish it off with a win here.”
McIlroy, who fell behind by as many as 10 shots early in the first round, said the FedExCup worked as it was intended.
“That was a spectacle out there today, two of the best players in the world going head-to-head for the biggest prize on the PGA TOUR,” he said.