Bizarre finish sends Senden to East Lake
Monday, January 31, 2011
LEMONT, Ill. – John Senden secured the 30th and final spot for the Tour Championship, giving him at least a mathematical chance of the $10 million prize and a spot in three of the majors next year.
How he made it required a bizarre sequence of bad golf.
Senden failed to do his part by closing with a 77 in the BMW Championship, which included a wedge he chunked so badly that it came up 40 yards short of the green, and a bunker shot he practically shanked into a water hazard.
He was saved a shocking finish from Brandt Snedeker. Needing only two putts from 12 feet on the final hole at Cog Hill to make bogey earn an unlikely spot at East Lake, Snedeker four-putted for triple bogey.
The crucial miss was a 3-foot bogey putt that he tried to jam in the cup, only for it to catch the lip. Stunned by the miss, Snedeker missed the next two from tap-in range.
“I can’t believe I did this,” Snedeker said. “I just made a mess of it.”
Tiger Woods turned the third playoff event for the FedEx Cup into a snoozer, going 62-68 on the weekend for an eight-shot victory that put him atop the standings going into the final tournament of the year.
The drama came from everyone else.
British Open champion Stewart Cink was projected to finish out of the top 30 when he arrived at Cog Hill, and he was 3 over after his opening five holes. That changed with an eagle-birdie-birdie-birdie stretch.
Standing on the sixth green, he noticed his projected position at No. 28.
“It got in my head a little bit, and I wish I hadn’t seen it,” he said.
No matter. He made pars the next three holes, then finished with a 20-foot birdie to finish at No. 26 and at least get to play at East Lake, which he considers his home course in Atlanta.
“It’s certainly stressful if you’re in with these other guys that are fighting it out,” Cink said. “It needs to be that.”
Other big moves:
• Luke Donald made a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole that kept him inside the top 30 (No. 28), a position he secured only when Senden and Snedeker dropped shots behind him.
• Jerry Kelly made a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole to grab the 29th position.
After much hang-wringing and computations, only two players moved into the top 30 — Donald and Marc Leishman, replacing Ian Poulter (75) and Charley Hoffman (77). Poulter’s hopes ended when he put his approach in the water at the 18th.
The big surprise was Leishman, a rookie from Australia.
He was on the verge of being eliminated last week until making an eagle on his last hole at TPC Boston to narrowly make the 70-man field at No. 67. Because of a fog delay that led to threesomes in the final round, he wound up in the last group with Woods.
Leishman answered by playing bogey-free for a 69. Now, he’s all the way to No. 16 with a realistic chance at the $10 million prize.
“I’m in the Tour Championship now and the Masters,” Leishman said. “It’s pretty hard to wipe the smile off my face.”
Perhaps the biggest move belonged to Jim Furyk, who knew he was playing for second when he saw Woods building on a seven-shot lead. Only after he shot 66 to tie for second did Furyk realize he moved up 15 spots to No. 3 in the standings.
Only the top five control their fate at East Lake — Woods, Steve Stricker, Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum can win the FedEx Cup with a victory in two weeks. Everyone else will need some help.
Some of them — such as Leishman, Kelly, Cink and Senden — were simply happy to be there.