ATLANTA — Rory McIlroy marched to the 18th green Sunday at East Lake Golf Club, a victory all but in hand and millions of dollars soon on their way to his bank account.
Even better was what he saw — and heard — behind him.
The scene was all too familiar. The gallery ducked under the ropes and rushed to encircle the green to watch the finish of a class performance in the Tour Championship. Before long, the chants began to ring out: "Rory! Rory! Rory!"
This time, McIlroy had the stage to himself.
A mere bystander last year amid the chaotic celebration of Tiger Woods' return to victory, McIlroy soaked up the perfect ending to a solid 2018-19 PGA Tour season when he surged past Brooks Koepka, held off Xander Schauffele and captured the FedEx Cup and the richest payoff in golf.
Turning to Harry Diamond, his caddie and best friend, McIlroy told him, "This walk is a little more pleasant than last year."
McIlroy closed with a 4-under-par 66 to finish four shots ahead of Schauffele, joining Woods as the only players to win the FedEx Cup twice.
"Any time you can do something that only Tiger has done, you're doing something right," McIlroy said.
There was so much more than $15 million — $14 million in cash, $1 million deferred — to this victory. Regardless of the new format that gave some players a head start to par depending on their place in the FedEx Cup standings — McIlroy began five shots behind before the tournament started — he wanted to post the lowest score of anyone in the 30-man field.
He shot 13-under 267, the best by three shots, and when he was paired with Koepka in the final group Sunday, it was a chance for atonement. A month ago, McIlroy laid an egg in the final group at a World Golf Championship, just like he did with Woods the year before at East Lake.
"I thought a lot about that," McIlroy said. "I thought about the final group with Tiger last year, the final group with Brooks in Memphis a few weeks ago, and I really wanted to go out there and play well and really take it to him, and I did that."
The FedEx Cup counts as an official win, giving him three for the year, and he had 14 finishes in the top 10 out of 19 starts, the highest percentage of his career.
The final round turned on the seventh hole with a three-shot swing — McIlroy made a 25-foot birdie, while Koepka lost his tee shot in the trees and made double bogey. There were consecutive two-shot swings on the back nine, and then it was a matter of holding off Schauffele.
McIlroy was four shots ahead until back-to-back bogeys, and he was on the verge of watching his lead shrink to one when he holed an eight-foot par putt on the 16th. Schauffele had to settle for pars, and McIlroy finished with a flourish. He was the only player to break par all four days.
Schauffele closed with a 70 to finish alone in second, which paid out $5 million.
"There was plenty of excitement today," Schauffele said. "The heart rate was up for most of the round. I thought the course was set up really fair, and if you were in the fairway, it was gettable. And if you weren't, it was exactly what you thought it was. It was just a lot of fun."
Justin Thomas, the No. 1 seed in the FedEx Cup who started with a two-shot lead, lost his way Sunday morning in the conclusion of the third round when he took triple bogey on the 16th hole, fell four behind and never caught up.
Thomas finished with two birdies for a 68 and tied for third with Koepka, who ended another big year with a pedestrian closing round of 72. Each earned $3.5 million.
The third round had been suspended Saturday after lightning struck a tree and injured six spectators huddled nearby. Police said they were treated and released from medical attention later that night.
The marathon final day — 31 holes for McIlroy and the other top contenders — began with big promise for a wild chase for the $15 million prize. Four players took turns atop the leaderboard in the first 35 minutes of golf Sunday morning, which included Schauffele's first hole-in-one of his career with a 5-iron on the 240-yard ninth hole.
What looked to be a shootout turned into a runaway for McIlroy.
"I'm going to enjoy this one tonight," he said.
Brandt Jobe surges to PGA Tour Champions win
SNOQUALMIE, Wash. — Brandt Jobe used his best round of the year to spoil what was supposed to be a day-long celebration for hometown favorite Fred Couples.
Jobe rallied from seven strokes down, shooting a final-round 9-under 63 to win the Boeing Classic for his second PGA Tour Champions title.
Jobe finished the 54-hole tournament at 18-under 198, three shots ahead of Tom Pernice Jr., who closed with a 65. Couples, who held a five-stroke lead after the second round at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge, struggled to a 76 and shared third with Jerry Kelly (69) at 12 under.
It's the 54-year-old Jobe's first victory since winning the 2017 Principal Charity Classic. The 63 matched his second-lowest round on the 50-and-older tour and helped him speed past Couples, leaving the 59-year-old Seattle native still looking for his first victory playing in his hometown event. It was the fourth time Couples has finished third in the event.
Couples made zero bogeys in his first 41 holes and five in his final 13 holes.
No. 1 Jin Young Ko finishes first
AURORA, Ontario — Jin Young Ko closed with an 8-under 64 to win the CP Women's Open by five shots over Nicole Broch Larsen.
Ko, a 24-year-old South Korean and the top-ranked female golfer in the world, pulled away with six birdies on the back nine at Magna Golf Club to finish at 26-under 262. It's the sixth LPGA Tour win of her career and her fourth during a year that includes two major titles.
Denmark's Larsen, who shared the lead with Ko entering the final round, closed with a 69.
Canada's Brooke Henderson, bidding to repeat as the tournament's champion, closed with a 69 and shared third with the United States' Lizette Salas (64) at 19 under.
Breakthrough European Tour title for Erik van Rooyen
GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Erik van Rooyen birdied the final hole to win his first European Tour title at the Scandinavian Invitation.
The 29-year-old South African posted a 6-under 64 in the final round at Hills Golf & Sports Club to finish at 19-under 261, one shot ahead of England's Matt Fitzpatrick (64).
Henrik Stenson, playing in the town where he was born, made a charge but couldn't secure what would have been his 12th European Tour title. The 43-year-old Swede held a share of the lead after making a hole-in-one on the sixth, but he finished in a tie for third with South Africa's Dean Burmester after each shot 66 to finish at 14 under.