ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy is No. 1 in the world, and Jim Furyk says that makes him a marked man at the Ryder Cup.
McIlroy has won three of his last four tournaments, starting with a record eight-shot win in the PGA Championship for his second major. He is the favorite again this week at the Tour Championship, where he is the top seed in the chase for the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.
The Ryder Cup is next week at Medinah, and while McIlroy is one of 12 players for Europe, he has set himself apart.
"We're not just playing one individual, though, we're playing 12," Furyk said Tuesday at East Lake. "Obviously, he's a marked man. He's the No. 1 player in the world. He's going to garner all the attention, as well he should. He's played phenomenal this year. ... He's right now the present day Tiger Woods, where everyone's eyes are on him. Tiger is still Tiger. Everyone would love to see that pairing in the Ryder Cup."
McIlroy went 1-1-2 in his Ryder Cup debut two years ago at Wales, scratching out a critical halve against Stewart Cink on the last day of singles. He left his first shot in a bunker by the 18th green, then got up-and-down for par.
Woods was a marked man from his first trip to the Ryder Cup in 1997 at Valderrama, having won the Masters by 12 shots and establishing himself as the player to beat. He went 1-3-1 in his Ryder Cup debut and didn't have a winning record in any Ryder Cup until 2006 at The K Club.
Even though he could only earn one point, there was a feeling that keeping Woods from a winning mark was key to beating the Americans.
McIlroy was criticized in some European corners for referring to the Ryder Cup as an "exhibition" before he had played in his first match. He was partners with Graeme McDowell in all three of his team matches, going 1-1-1.
McIlroy has won the last two FedEx Cup playoff events with an average score of 66.5.
"It's not going to be difficult for him to flip the switch and go into the Ryder Cup," Furyk said. "It's a whole new dynamic, a whole different type of game in match play. But he's the best player in the world right now, and he's going to be the toughest guy to beat."