McIlroy in buoyant mood
Indianapolis - World number one Rory McIlroy, who has won two of his last three starts, will showcase his red-hot game at this week's BMW Championship, the third of four FedEx Cup playoff events.
Beyond the two wins, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman also has another top-five finish in his last four events, which has elevated him to the world number one spot and the top position in the PGA Tour's playoff points race.
"I am obviously delighted to have won last week, to move to the top of the FedEx Cup rankings," said McIlroy, who won last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. "I feel like my game is in great shape.
"I can't really rest or dwell on what I've done last week. I want to come out here and try as best I can again and put myself in the best possible position going to Atlanta."
The Crooked Stick golf course, home of the 1991 PGA Championship won by John Daly, is hosting this playoff event for the first time as this event rotates courses.
"The big key this week is hitting the ball in the fairway and hitting it a good distance out there," McIlroy said. "You're going to get a few mud balls and it's going to be a little tricky in that regard, but it's going to be another good week."
Last year at Cog Hill, England's Justin Rose opened with an eight-under 63, then hung on to beat Aussie John Senden by two shots. The victory was Rose's third on the PGA Tour. Rose captured his fourth title earlier this year at the WGC - Cadillac Championship.
"Whenever you get to come back and defend a tournament it's a great feeling," Rose said. "I think it comes at a good time. Hopefully I can ride some of the good memories that happened to me at this time last year."
McIlroy will be paired with Tiger Woods in Thursday's opening round but he's trying to treat it just like a normal round of golf. The third member of the group is Nick Watney.
"I think it definitely creates some more interest for the fans and for golf in general," McIlroy said. "I don't see any challenge in it. I mean, I think it's just good fun. It's good fun to be out there and have such an atmosphere and such a buzz around a grouping like that."
Woods is coming off a third-place finish in the Deutsche Bank Championship where he shot four rounds in the 60s.
"I had a really great putting day the first day, and then the next three were good, but they weren't great like the first day," Woods said.
The FedEx Cup field was cut down to 70 after McIlroy's win on Monday. Among those that failed to advance were John Rollins, Aaron Baddeley, J.J. Henry, Sean O'Hair, Charles Howell, Ricky Barnes and K.J. Choi.
The top 30 players on the FedEx Cup points list will be in Atlanta on September 20 for the Tour Championship, where Bill Haas won last year and claimed the PGA playoff title as well.
"This is the biggest one," said Pat Perez. "The biggest prize to me is top 30. The $10 million is nice, but it's only for one guy. I'd like to be in the top 30 because then I'm in everything. I'd have a chance to win majors.
"If I could never win the FedEx Cup but knew I would be top 30 for the next 10 years? Sign me up."
The Crooked Stick course is best known among Americans for Daly winning the 1991 PGA Championship as the ninth alternate.
The course also has hosted the US Senior Open and the Solheim Cup, but this is the first time in 20 years it has had the very best players in the world.