Justin Rose rallies to claim FedEx Cup crown, $10 million bonus

Sep 23, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Justin Rose holds the FedEx Cup after the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Justin Rose rallies to claim FedEx Cup crown, $10 million bonus

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Justin Rose rallies to claim FedEx Cup crown, $10 million bonus

ATLANTA — Before Sunday’s final round at the Tour Championship, Justin Rose already had won two PGA Tour events this season, earned 10 top-10 finishes and collected more than $7.7 million in prize money. His Sunday 73 at East Lake Golf club did not earn him a third win for the year, but it was good enough to give the Englishman his first FedEx Cup title and the $10 million prize that comes with it.

“Sometimes the FedEx Cup rewards guys who win at the very end, but with obviously maybe Bryson (DeChambeau) opening the door at the beginning part of the week, maybe not having his best week, it kind of opened it up for so many guys this week,” Rose said. “For me, I was trying to do my best to win this golf tournament and scoop the double jackpot. But far and away, being next to this trophy is something I’m very, very proud of.”

Tiger Woods seized the headlines and ended five years of frustration Sunday by winning the Tour Championship by two strokes over Billy Horschel.

Meanwhile, Rose was able to claim the FedEx crown, but just barely.

Rose entered the week ranked No. 2 on the FedEx Cup point list, which meant if he could win at East Lake, he automatically would win the FedEx Cup as well. However, as DeChambeau, who started the week ranked No. 1 on the point list after playoff wins at the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies, struggled Thursday and Friday, it was Dustin Johnson who quietly moved up the leaderboard Sunday.

After making a birdie on 17 to reach 7 under, Johnson had a chance to put himself ahead of Rose in the projections for the FedEx Cup title. But his par on the 572-yard, par-5 18th left the door open for Rose.

“A bogey at No. 16 put me behind the eight ball. I knew I had to birdie one of the last two,” Rose said. “I actually said to myself, ‘I’m glad we’re playing East Lake this way around,’ because if I had to birdie 17 or 18 the other way around, it would have been a pretty tough proposition.”

The nines were reversed for the Tour Championship starting in 2016, and under the previous routing, the 18th hole was a long par 3 that is currently the ninth hole.

Rose made par on the 17th hole, but after hitting a 359-yard drive down the hill on 18, he reached the green in two and maintained his composure to card a two-putt birdie and win the FedEx Cup.

“I knew I didn’t want a 3-footer around that cup, that’s for sure,” Rose said. “It was an interesting scenario. There was an intense atmosphere. I knew Tiger had driven it way down the fairway behind. I looked back, and then I saw all the crowd just swamping down the fairway, too, and the atmosphere around the 18th green. They wanted to see their man obviously pick this up, as well. I knew there would be an unsettling vibe if I left myself 4 feet there, so it was really important to get a good lag putt up there and make the job as easy as possible.”

Two weeks before the Tour Championship, Rose had climbed to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking after his playoff loss in the BMW Championship, but Johnson reclaimed the top spot by a slim margin with his Sunday surge in Atlanta.

Woods also had a chance to win the FedEx Cup, but his hopes were dependent on Rose finishing worse than sixth in the tournament. Rose’s 18th-hole birdie gave him a tie for fourth and shut down the Tour Championship winner’s hopes of another FedEx Cup title. Had Rose made par on 18, Woods would have been the champion. The points ended with Rose No. 1, followed by Woods, DeChambeau, Johnson and Billy Horschel.

As one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour and a Top-10 machine, maybe it’s fitting that Rose is the only golfer to ever win the FedEx Cup without winning any of the playoff events. He’ll be the last to accomplish that feat as well, because next season the FedEx Cup will have a new format with a strokes-based advantage given to players based on their position on the FedEx Cup point list after the BMW Championship. The winner of the 2019 Tour Championship will automatically win the FedEx Cup.

“I think the reason I’m sort of standing here today as FedEx Cup champion is largely to do with the consistency with which I’ve played, a ton of top-10s,” Rose said. “There were a lot of scenarios at play. That’s what the beauty of this format is. I think obviously for me this year it rewarded consistent golf.” Gwk

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