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After lunch with Bill Clinton, Rory McIlroy set to play

Rory McIlroy says his focus is on finishing his superb season by winning the FedEx Cup.

BARRY CHIN/GLOBE STAFF

Rory McIlroy says his focus is on finishing his superb season by winning the FedEx Cup.

NORTON — Thanks to the Friday start at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Rory McIlroy was able to spend a few days in the Hamptons, playing some golf and enjoying one very long lunch with Bill Clinton.

No golf for Clinton — “I think he promised Hillary he had to do something, so he spent the morning with her and her family,” McIlroy said — but the world’s top-ranked golfer and the former president of the United States squeezed some golf into the very wide-ranging conversation on Tuesday.

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“He’s obviously a huge golf fan, so we talked a lot about golf. But we talked about a lot of other stuff. He was telling interesting stories when he was in office and dealing with different leaders from certain countries,” McIlroy said. “It’s really interesting, and it’s almost like you get a lifetime sort of education on that stuff that you didn’t already know.

“I take a lot out of those sort of experiences. It’s an honor for me to be in a position where I’m able to do things like that.”

Clinton was in Boston on Wednesday night, joining Tiger Woods at a welcome party at Four Seasons Boston for the DBC’s pro-am, which was held Thursday. Clinton did not participate in the pro-am, but Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, was paired with Masters champion Bubba Watson.

McIlroy won the DBC in 2012, then added a victory at the BMW Championship a week later. It put him in excellent shape to win the FedEx Cup at the Tour Championship, but Brandt Snedeker won the tournament — and the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.

McIlroy is second in the points race now, overtaken on Sunday by Barclays winner Hunter Mahan. But while some of his expected Ryder Cup teammates have taken this tournament off (Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell), McIlroy said his focus is on playing all four playoff events and winning the points competition.

“It’s one of the only things in golf that I probably haven’t achieved. And it would be great to win,” McIlroy said. “Apart from the money and everything else that goes along with it, I feel like I’ve played a lot of good golf this season and I should be right there until the end.

“I feel like this season deserves a good finish, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to keep it going. I’m trying to give it the finish that it really should have.”

Going in cold

From the minute Phil Mickelson left the Barclays on Saturday until he stepped on the first tee at TPC Boston Thursday for his noon pro-am time, he didn’t touch a golf club. Didn’t even warm up before the pro-am.

“I needed a bit of a break,” said Mickelson, who won this tournament in 2007. “I love this golf course, it’s one of my favorites, so I would hate to miss it here.”

He considered missing it, but opted to fly back across the country to see if he can improve his standing on the points list and extend his playoffs. At No. 57, Mickelson might not be eligible for the next playoff event if he misses the cut here. Which he’s never done.

Maybe a return to this venue is what Mickelson needs to help turn his form around; in 19 starts on the PGA Tour this year, he has just one top-10 finish.

“It was a lot like ’03 when I was playing terrible heading into the Masters. I missed the cut in Atlanta, had five days to get ready for the Masters, and I didn’t hit a shot, because I didn’t know what it was I was trying to do,” Mickelson said. “Before I headed out I kind of figured out what I was trying to do.”

You’re all winners

The team led by Camilo Villegas won the pro-am with a score of 18 under par. Villegas was joined by Gregg Forman, Paul O’Connor, Kevin Hendrickson, and Don Colleran . . . Once again, the caddies for the amateurs in Thursday’s event were supplied by the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, which is awarding $1.6 million to Massachusetts students this upcoming school year . . . One of those Ouimet caddies, Bill Schwaber of Westfield, ended up playing in his group because the player he was supposed to loop for couldn’t make it because of an injury. Schwaber, who played golf at Salem State, was given a glove from Ryan Palmer, the tour player in the group, and a rental set of clubs from the pro shop. He played in sneakers. “Couldn’t ask for a better day,” Schwaber said . . . Tim Clark withdrew from the tournament on Thursday because of an elbow injury, which also caused him to withdraw from last week’s Barclays in the middle of the second round. Clark is 38th on the points list, so he’ll be eligible to play next week in the third playoff event. Assuming he’s healthy, that is.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.
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