PARAMUS, N.J. – With players fighting to prolong their season and Tiger Woods coming off a near-win at the PGA Championship, there were more storylines at the start of this year’s Northern Trust than bunkers at Ridgewood Country Club.
But in the end, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau penned the final chapter to a few.
DeChambeau’s sizzling 63 on Saturday and birdie-birdie start on Sunday sucked most of the drama out of the final round. Sure, Aaron Wise pulled within two shots on the back nine, but after he made back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17, and DeChambeau birded 12 and 13, his second PGA Tour win of the season felt inevitable once again.
The 24-year-old DeChambeau likely removed any remaining doubts in the mind of Jim Furyk about giving him a captain’s pick onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“I said I was a man on a mission yesterday, and hopefully he can see that I’ve got some grit and grind, and that even when I don’t execute certain shots, I can get it done,” DeChambeau said.
Finau, 28, finished second after shooting 66-68 on the weekend. Known for his power game, he showed that he can do more than pulverize tee shots by finishing first in strokes gained tee to green and strokes gained around the green. Shaky putting on the weekend kept Finau from catching DeChambeau, but after Woods, Phil Mickelson and now DeChambeau, Finau has the inside track on getting the Furyk’s fourth captain’s pick. Other potential candidates like Xander Schauffele (MC) and Kevin Kisner (T-73) will need to win a FedEx Cup playoff event to leapfrog Finau now.
Ryan Palmer finished 63rd on the Ryder Cup point list, so he has not been thinking about Paris, but his position at No. 100 on the FedEx Cup point list was in the forefront of his mind at the start of the week. A Sunday 65 for Palmer, 41, vaulted him up to 50th.
“What a huge day,” he said. “Knowing if I miss the cut, I’m going home, and if I make the cut and play decent, I’d at least be in Boston. But to lock up (a spot at) BMW is even more special and one step closer to East Lake.”
Starting the week ranked No. 123 on the FedEx Cup point list, Jhonattan Vegas barely qualified to play at Ridgewood but a tie for 15th at 9 under moved him up to 87th.
“I knew that I had to go low today,” said the Venezuelan, who shot 68 in the final round. “I knew it was going to be super hard for me because obviously I’m worn out right now.” Explaining that he has played six consecutive weeks since the British Open, Vegas said pointedly, “I’ve never been this tired in my life.”
Along with Palmer and Vegas, five other golfers who started the week above No. 100 on the FedEx Cup point list extended their season: Nick Watney (102 to 67), Bronson Burgoon (111 to 73), Scott Stallings (107 to 94), Brian Stuard (118 to 99) and Danny Lee (103 to 98).
Sam Ryder tied for 28th at the Northern Trust but ended up as Mr. 101 on the FedEx Cup list, so his season is done. Charl Schwartzel, Martin Laird and Sam Saunders are also among golfers who now get a six-week vacation until the start of the 2018-19 season. Gwk
(Note: This story appears in the September 2018 issue of Golfweek.)