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QUICK TAKE: With Paris On His Mind, Rory Opens Strongly At East Lake

Rory McIlroy opened with a 3-under 67 in the first round at the Tour Championship. (Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA | Having just finished off a sweaty 3-under-par 67 Thursday in the opening round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, Rory McIlroy said he hadn’t given much thought to what winning the PGA Tour’s grand finale would mean to his season.

But there is no doubt how important the Ryder Cup next week is to McIlroy.

“(If) I go to the Ryder Cup next week and win five matches and we lose the event, like I’ll be devastated,” said McIlroy, who is two strokes behind co-leaders Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods.

McIlroy, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, has programmed his preparation for this three-event run that began two weeks ago at the BMW Championship where he finished fifth. He took the first FedEx Cup playoff event off to make sure he’s fresh and while it would take a convoluted set of circumstances for him to win his second FedEx Cup, the extra week off didn’t hurt him significantly.

Talking with Woods, McIlroy pointed out that he dropped six spots by not playing while Woods dropped five spots with a T40 finish at the Northern Trust.

“I just wanted to be at my best for these three weeks,” McIlroy said. “Going from four events to three events next year, it doesn’t give you that luxury. You need to go and play all three to have a chance.”

McIlroy said he intends to become a member of the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council for the first time next year to have more input into the business side of his profession. He likes the changes to the FedEx Cup playoffs next year though he questions whether winning the final event should count as an official victory given the possibility the winner won’t shoot the lowest score for the week.

Having announced recently that he will play in the year-opening Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui for the first time in January, McIlroy said he will not play the European Tour stops in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as he has typically done in recent years.



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