Rory McIlroy left Rochester on Sunday night with a financial boost of $206,250 but the more meaningful one was for the 24-year-old's confidence.
McIlroy's tie for eighth at the US PGA Championship represented his best major finish of the year by a considerable margin. That placing was even more notable given McIlroy had looked like missing a second cut in succession at a major for a spell on Friday.
"I saw a lot of great signs out there," McIlroy said. "Hopefully, I can just bring that through to the next few weeks and have a strong finish to the season."
At last McIlroy's reiterated belief is being backed up by his performances. During the final round at Oak Hill he supplied as impressive a display of ball-striking as anyone in the field. Only an inability to convert birdie chances and a disastrous seven at the 5th hole, prevented him from forcing himself higher up the leaderboard.
"My game is in great shape and I'm just a little disappointed I didn't capitalise on how well I had played on Sunday," he said. "There's still enough golf ahead of me this year to turn it into very good year. I have four very big weeks coming up to try and finish off the PGA Tour season well. I have also got a few events out in Asia so I've got plenty of opportunity to round off my year on a good note."
McIlroy's Northern Ireland compatriot Graeme McDowell has set his sights on making an impact on the PGA Tour's FedEx play-off series for the first time. McDowell tied 12th at Oak Hill and now aims to qualify for the FedEx finale, the Tour Championship in Atlanta next month, by progressing through the previous three stages.
"FedEx has been tough for me the last few years," McDowell said. "I haven't really got into it, if you like.
"This is probably the first year I'm going in there with some certain numbers on the board. I'm guaranteed the first three [events]. I kind of know what I have to do to get into the Tour Championship and I sort of set that as my goal at the start of the year, to get into the Tour Championship. I wanted to experience that a little bit.
"It's so volatile. It's a very, very different format from what we're used to in regular golf throughout history. The best player wins the money list, wins the best player of the year.
"The FedEx play-offs, you can go in having a phenomenal season; Padraig Harrington won two major championships and doesn't get into the Tour Championship. So that just about sums up how volatile the FedEx has been. It is what it is. You have just got to go in there and play aggressive and try to put some numbers up."
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