Created on Monday, 16 September 2013 Written by DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The way his PGA Tour season has gone, Rory McIlroy will take even the smallest of victories.
In this case, it meant not having to stick around the rain-delayed BMW Championship for one more day.
McIlroy slogged his way up the 18th fairway Sunday morning when the horn sounded to stop play for the second time because of too much water that was accumulating from steady rain at Conway Farms. Because there was no lightning, McIlroy was able to finish off a 3-under 68 and head to Monaco to start his four-week break.
He was among only six players in the 70-man field who completed the final round.
Jim Furyk, at 13-under 200 and with a one-shot lead over Steve Stricker, spent most of his day in the locker room watching football. Of the 48 players who at least started the final round, none was within 10 shots of the lead.
Tiger Woods, who had a two-shot penalty on Friday when his ball moved while he was trying to remove a small branch next to it, was four shots back.
Furyk will be trying to win for the first time in three years when he returns Monday morning. Stricker is going after his first win of the year while playing a reduced schedule. For the others in the hunt, including Brandt Snedeker (two shots behind) and Zach Johnson (three behind), it's a chance to win and position themselves with a shot at the $10 million prize next week in the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake.
McIlroy is not even part of the conversation — not even close.
His best finish this year was runner-up in the Texas Open, which he added to his schedule at the last minute after getting off to such a poor start. His year began at No. 1 in the world. His goal was to join Woods and Phil Mickelson as the only players in the last 25 years to win majors in three straight seasons.
Getting to the Tour Championship would have seemed to be the least of his concerns.
But two scoring details at Conway Farms indicated just what kind of year it has been. He opened with rounds of 78-77, the highest 36-hole total of his career. He closed with 68-68, marking the first time all season he had back-to-back rounds in the 60s in the same tournament.
What didn't change was his outlook.
Even as he finished before lunch on the weekend, McIlroy was upbeat as he sat at his locker. When asked earlier in the week how he would be able to stay patient as he endured a slump that kept him winless on the PGA Tour for the first time as a member, he replied, "I'm 24."
"I've got a lot of time in this game still," McIlroy had said on Friday. "I've got obviously a few tournaments left this year. I'm sort of looking forward to getting to December and drawing a line under the season and start fresh in '14."
He next plays in Korea, followed by four more tournaments in Asia, one in Australia and the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in California.
The only time McIlroy became defensive this week was when it was suggested that speculation would be he didn't work as hard.
"I'm working harder," he said. "Everything sort of came easy last year, and I'm working harder, hitting more balls, spending more time on the range because I'm searching for it. I'm working harder, and that's what's frustrating. But the fact that I'm working hard and I'm not really getting much out of it, if I can keep patient and keep working hard, I'm sure it'll turn around."
Everyone else was to return to Conway Farms on Monday morning and act like Sunday never happened.
Slugger White, the vice president of rules and competition for the PGA Tour, said the forecast was for a half-inch of rain over six hours, which would not have been enough for water to accumulate. Instead, there was an inch of rain and so much water that there would have been no place to take relief from casual water.
The conditions were difficult for those who still had something at stake. Charles Howell III started the week at No. 31 in the FedEx Cup standings. He was 1 over through four holes. Rickie Fowler had a chance to get into the top 30 and advance to the Tour Championship. He shot 77 in the first round and bounced back with a pair of 68s. Fowler was 2 under through four holes Sunday.
It will be the fourth time this year that a PGA Tour event had to go an extra day. The Farmers Insurance Open (fog) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (storms) ended on a Monday. The Tournament of Champions had a Tuesday finish after being shortened to 54 holes because of high wind.
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