By Simon Evans
NORTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy heads into Friday's opening round of the Deutsche Bank Championship believing he can still turn a disappointing year into a memorable season by winning overall FedExCup playoff honors.
McIlroy sits 36th in the standings, 2,984 points behind leader Tiger Woods, but with 2,500 points available for a win in the FedExCup playoff stages and a re-set before the fourth and final event, positions can be improved dramatically.
Any player in the top five going into the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta from Sep. 19-22 knows that victory there would secure the FedExCup title and the eye-popping bonus of $10 million.
While the odds are against him, McIlroy is not going to throw in the towel just yet. He has this week at the TPC Boston, where he defends his title, and then the BMW Championship in Chicago in two weeks' time to try to transform his season.
"What I'm trying to get out of this week is just trying to move up in the FedExCup," world number four McIlroy told reporters on Thursday.
"Going into the little week break that we have next week, playing myself into a nice position, then I can go into Chicago and play well and maybe get myself into the top five in the standings ... so I actually have a chance to still win the thing going into Atlanta.
"I know I'll need to produce a couple of really good finishes to do that, but I feel like I'm playing well enough to do that."
McIlroy finished tied for 19th at The Barclays last week after sharing eighth place at the PGA Championship but believes he has turned the corner after finishing outside the top 40 at the U.S. Open and missing the cut at the British Open.
"I don't think there's anything wrong," the Northern Irishman said. "I've played pretty well at times this year. Five top 10s (on the PGA Tour), and I feel like my game is definitely running into a little bit of form.
"I guess I'm a victim of my own success at times. But I know how well I can play ... and I want to get back to that level," added the double major winner.
"All I want to do is just keep trying to improve my position. I'd love to make a big jump this week, and obviously jump into the sort of competitive places going into the Tour Championship."
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)