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Len Ziehm On Golf

BMW CHAMPIONSHIP: McIlroy is simply the best as season reaches its climax

CARMEL, Ind. – Sunday’s wrapup to the BMW Championship didn’t bode well for the U.S. team’s chances in the upcoming Ryder Cup matches at Medinah.

Two members of the European Ryder Cup team, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, played together in the next-to-the-last twosome and finished at the top of the leaderboard with McIlroy reinforcing his status as the world’s No. 1 golfer.

Winning his second straight event of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, he shot four rounds in the 60s en route to posting a 20-under-par 268 for the 72 holes. Despite a bogey on the last hole he had a two-stroke cushion on Westwood and American Ryder Cupper Phil Mickelson, who started the last 18 tied for the lead with Vijay Singh.

McIlroy, 23, from Northern Ireland, notched his third win in his last four starts. The stretch started with a title at the year’s last major – the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, S.C., and he also won last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston. The made him the fourth player to win two FedEx Cup playoff events in the same year, the others being Tiger Woods in 2007 and Singh and Camilo Villegas in 2008. In the last two weeks McIlroy is 40 under par for eight rounds.

“I’m just on a great run at the moment,’’ said McIlroy. `I’m playing well, I’m confident. I just hope to keep it going.’’

He’ll have the chance to claim the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus in two weeks at The Tour Championship in Atlanta. Then comes the Ryder Cup matches, the biennial team event that highlights the season.

“If (McIlroy) needs a partner, I don’t mind,’’ quipped Westwood, who was a world No. 1-ranked player before McIlroy. “He’s a talent. I played with him when he was 13, and you could see it then. He’s just maturing all the time. And he’s a very, very good player.’’

McIlroy shot 67, Westwood 69, Mickelson 70 and Singh 73 with the title on the line.

“My timing was just a fraction off,’’ said Mickelson, who made 10 birdies en route to posting a 64 in the third round. “I wasn’t quite getting the ball on line with my irons and my putter was just a little bit off . But I’m really pleased with the way my game has come around the last two weeks.’’

As far as the playoffs are concerned, the new top five in the point standings — McIlroy, Woods, Nick Watney, Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker – all can win the Cup with a win at Atlanta. Woods tied for fourth Sunday with fellow American long ball hitter Robert Garrigus after losing his touch on Crooked Stick’s par-5s. He played them in 9-under over the first three rounds but settled for four pars on the long holes on Sunday.

Bill Haas, who won the FedEx Cup last year, wasn’t among the 30 who qualified for Atlanta. Neither were D.A. Points and Mark Wilson, the last Chicago players left in the playoffs.