Five things you need to know from the final round of the BMW Championship, the third of four FedEx Cup playoff events.
1. Rose blooms at BMW: Just as Justin Rose seemed to be letting another 54-hole lead slip away, he summoned a spectacular chip shot at the BMW Championship’s penultimate hole. His chip-in from just off the green gave him a two-shot cushion as he walked to Cog Hill’s testing finisher. Rose made par there, and it was enough for his third career PGA Tour title. Rose finished at 13-under 271 after a final-round 71. John Senden (69) finished second, two shots back.
Rose had held the 54-hole lead in seven previous PGA Tour events, but won on just one of those occasions. He started the BMW’s final round with a four-shot lead, but was just one ahead after driving into a hazard and making bogey at the par-5 15th.
“I’ve had my ups and my downs, and the learning curve is steep sometimes, but what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger,” Rose said. “If you can put it in perspective, that’s when the game is not a big deal. No doubt it was hard today. I was grinding out there.”
Rose said he almost used the “chicken stick” out, i.e. the putter, for his third shot on 17, but talked himself into hitting a chip shot because it gave him a better chance of holing out. “That was a moment where you just have to commit and do what you need to do to win a golf tournament,” he said.
Rose credited his good play to an early-week session with instructor Sean Foley.
“When I have it nicely in the slot at the top of the backswing, the club just falls down nicely into the ball,” Rose said. “We just spent about an hour on that, and it feels pretty easy.”
The victory moved Rose to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings. The top five entering next week’s Tour Championship can clinch the FedEx Cup with victory at East Lake. Rose started the week ranked 34th in the FedEx Cup.
2. Fab five: Webb Simpson, who finished fifth at the BMW, will take the FedEx Cup lead into the Tour Championship. Dustin Johnson struggled in his BMW Championship defense (T-65) retained the No. 2 spot. Rose, Luke Donald (4th at BMW) and Matt Kuchar (T-22) round out the FedEx Cup’s top five.
3. On to East Lake: Bo Van Pelt finished 56th at BMW, but it was enough to clinch the final spot in the Tour Championship. This will be Van Pelt’s second consecutive start at East Lake. Earning a Tour Championship tee time comes with benefits outside the guaranteed money. Making the 30-man field earns a player starts in the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
Among those to make the top 30 was Charles Howell, an Augusta, Ga., native who clinched his first Masters berth since 2008.
Y.E. Yang holed consecutive shots from off the green on Nos. 16 and 17 to earn his Tour Championship berth. He was projected to finish 31st while playing a chip shot from short of Cog Hill’s 16th green. He moved to 30th on the list when that shot trickled down a slope and into the hole. He was projected 29th when he holed a 20-foot par putt from off the green on the par-4 17th. He finished 28th.
Howell, Aaron Baddeley, Yang, Fredrik Jacobson and Van Pelt grabbed the final five spots in the Tour Championship. Martin Laird, Charl Schwartzel, Camilo Villegas, Kyle Stanley and Rory Sabbatini finished Nos. 31-35 in the FedEx Cup standings. Jim Furyk, the defending FedEx Cup champion, was 36th after a final-round 76 at Cog Hill.
Furyk was one of five players that had played in the Tour Championship in all four years of the FedEx Cup. Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Ernie Els were the others. Stricker, Mickelson and Mahan all advanced to this year’s Tour Championship. The defending FedEx Cup champion has never advanced to the following year’s Tour Championship.
4. Too little, too late: Villegas and Sergio Garcia worked their way into contention for Tour Championship tee times before falling short because of late struggles.
Villegas was projected to finish 46th in the FedEx Cup standings at the start of the BMW’s final round. Birdies on Nos. 14, 15 and 16 moved him to 29th, though. A bogey on No. 18 dropped him out of the top 30, though. Villegas slammed his fist on a table outside the scoring tent after missing a 4-foot putt.
Garcia moved to 32nd in the standings with a birdie on No. 11 – just one shot outside the top 30 – but double-bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15 and bogeyed the 16th to end up 44th in the standings. Not that he minded. “I don’t really care,” Garcia said Saturday about making the Tour Championship. “I don’t think it’s the ideal thing for me the way I feel, but you know.”
5. All the President’s men: Geoff Ogilvy’s third-place finish clinched a spot not just in the Tour Championship, but the Presidents Cup, which is being played in his native Australia at one of his favorite courses, Royal Melbourne.
Senden needed a victory at the BMW to move from 23rd to the top 10, but with Rose hanging on for victory, the Australian finished on the outside looking in.
The 10 automatic selections for the International and U.S. teams were finalized this week, with the captain’s picks scheduled to be announced after the Tour Championship. Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, David Toms, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk earned the 10 automatic berths on the U.S. team.
Brandt Snedeker finished 11th in the standings, followed by Bill Haas. With U.S. captain Fred Couples guaranteeing that he will pick Tiger Woods, there is only one spot remaining on the U.S. team. Rickie Fowler (48th at the BMW) and Keegan Bradley (16th) are also in contention for that final selection.
The top 10 for the International squad: Jason Day, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi, Kyung-tae Kim, Retief Goosen, Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els, Y.E. Yang and Ryo Ishikawa.