McIlroy targets Mahan's top spot at Deutsche Bank

Posted at 08/29/14 7:17 PM

In-form Rory McIlroy has set his sights on dislodging Hunter Mahan from the top of the FedExCup standings after this week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Massachusetts on a course he says is ideally suited to his game.

Two years ago, McIlroy won the elite FedExCup playoff event held at the TPC Boston in Norton during a sensational PGA Tour campaign highlighted by four victories, including a second career major, and player of the year honours.

After a dominant run of golf in recent weeks that has earned him three consecutive tournament wins, including two more major crowns, McIlroy believes he is in greater control of his overall game than he was in late 2012.

"There are some similarities," the Northern Irish world number one told reporters at the TPC Boston on Thursday when asked to compare his red-hot form over the past month with that of two years ago.

"My frame of mind and where I am mentally is very similar. I am very relaxed, I'm going out on to the golf course and I'm not really putting a whole lot of pressure on myself.

"I'm just going out and playing and I know that if I play well, that I'll have somewhat of a chance to maybe win the tournament."

That "somewhat of a chance" translated into a series of sizzling displays as McIlroy won last month's British Open, his first World Golf Championships title at the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship in successive starts.

"My golf game feels probably a little more in control now than it did back then (in 2012)," the 25-year-old said on the eve of the second of four FedExCup playoff events.

"Certain shots that I'm able to hit now that I maybe wasn't able to hit back then. And I'm definitely driving the ball as good as I ever have, if not better.

"At the same time, I feel that I am a more experienced and more developed player now than I was a couple of years ago."

McIlroy was thwarted in his bid to claim a fourth consecutive PGA Tour victory at last week's Barclays tournament, where American Mahan triumphed by two shots to replace the Northern Irishman at the top of the FedExCup standings.


With McIlroy back this week at a venue where he feels very comfortable with his game, he is eager to take full advantage.

"Obviously I've had some success here before, 2012 was a good year for me here," he said. "It's a golf course that sets up well for me.

"I am excited for the week and the opportunity to get back to that number one place in the FedExCup and move on to Denver (for next week's BMW Championship) with a little bit of a lead."

For his part, Mahan was delighted to be back in the winner's circle with three playoff events remaining to conclude the 2013-14 PGA Tour after ending a title drought of more than two years with his victory at The Barclays on Sunday.

"This time of year I want to be playing and I want to have an opportunity to win," said Mahan, who has been grouped with fellow American Jimmy Walker and McIlroy for Friday's opening round.

"These are big tournaments, these are the best players in the world. I want to have that opportunity to win."

The top 70 players on the FedExCup points list after the Deutsche Bank Championship advance to next week's BMW Championship in Englewood, Colorado where the leading 30 will qualify for the Sep. 11-14 Tour Championship finale in Atlanta.

Mahan, the only player who has never missed a start in the FedExCup playoffs since they were launched in 2007, sealed his place in Atlanta with his triumph on Sunday.

"It was a great win because a lot went into the win," he said. "I got a lot out of it so far. I've had a pretty impressive streak for the last seven years, I want to continue it this year."

Swede Henrik Stenson defends the Deutsche Bank Championship he won by two shots last year when he went on to clinch the season-ending Tour Championship and overall FedExCup honours.

However, this week Stenson is in a precarious position at 66th in the FedExCup standings as he strives to remain in the top 70 and thereby qualify for the BMW Championship.

Also in danger of being eliminated from the playoffs after this week's event are 2012 FedExCup champion Brandt Snedeker (71st) and England's former world number one Luke Donald (80th). (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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