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Len Ziehm On Golf

McIlroy downplays his late arrival at Medinah’s Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy nearly missed his tee time in the last big event he played at Medinah. He can only laugh about it now.

The moment of infamy came in the 2012 Ryder Cup. McIlroy didn’t account for a time change and didn’t realize he needed to be at Medinah until someone called him. He needed a police escort to barely make it in time for a singles match against American Keegan Bradley.

McIlroy didn’t get a warmup on the range but still beat Bradley 3 and 1. He was embarrassed about his tardiness, but not about the result.

“Hopefully I won’t need (the escort) this time,’’ he said. “I’m staying a little closer to the course. That was a long time ago. I’ve played in three Ryder Cups since then, and a lot of things have happened during that time.’’

Among them was his marriage to Erica Stoll, a former PGA of America employee who was the director of transportation during the Medinah Ryder Cup. They married in 2017.

McIlroy won the FedEx Cup in 2016 and is third in the standings going into the BMW Championship, trailing Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed, winner of The Northern Trust – the first playoff event on Sunday. McIlroy is happy this year’s PGA Tour’s playoff series has been reduced from four to three tournaments.

“That’s based on the position I’m in,’’ he said. “But I’ve also got to play a tournament in Switzerland the week after its over, so it’ll be four tournaments in a row for me. The FedEx Cup is more of a sprint now, but it’s something you really want to win.’’

The path to doing that is a little different this year, with the format assuring that the winner of next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta already assured of winning the FedEx Cup.

“The year I won was the year I had my worst ranking (36th) going in,’’ said McIlroy. “That year I won in Boston and the Tour Championship. But he also won two playoff events in 2012 and didn’t win the FedEx Cup. Brandt Snedeker beat him out that year.

“With 13 top-10s and two wins, this has been my most consistent year by far,’’ he said. “But the narrative has become that consistency isn’t valued as much as it once was. That’s true of all sports.’’

“You just have to appreciate the FedEx Cup for what it is,’’ summed up McIlroy. “Patrick Reed was way back. Then he won last week and came all the way up to second. But I sort of like the position I’m in.’’