LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The final bubble watch of the season saw some familiar faces come up short, while several newcomers rallied to punch their tickets to the Tour Championship – and Augusta National.
There was plenty of drama during the final round of the BMW Championship, but rather than seeing players fumble away their spots inside the coveted top 30, Sunday was about others rising to the occasion under some unique pressure. Chief among them was Tony Finau, who chipped in for birdie on No. 18 to cap a closing 64 that moved him into a tie for seventh.
Finau started the week 39th in the season-long points race, but he vaulted all the way up to 24th to earn a spot in his first Tour Championship. It also makes him eligible for the WGC-HSBC Champions next month as well as the WGC-Mexico Championship, U.S. Open and The Open next year.
Oh, and it also earns him his first-ever invite to The Masters.
“It means everything. The four majors, the WGCs,” Finau said. “To have those locked in next year would be huge. You play to play against the best players in the world and get in those fields. Next season it’s something that hopefully happens, and I look forward to that.”
Xander Schauffele was already in next year’s Masters thanks to his win at The Greenbrier Classic, but midway through the final round he seemed like a longshot to make the season finale. Schauffele was 2 over through 12 holes before mounting an impressive rally, playing his final six holes in 6 under to crack the top 30 without a shot to spare.
Schauffele jumped from No. 32 to No. 26 after a T-20 finish, and he’ll be one of only two rookies next week at East Lake.
“Golf is an individual sport. We set goals and try to reach them,” Schauffele said. “Once you reach goals, you make new ones. And I’ve been making a lot of new ones kind of rapidly, which is always a good thing.”
Sergio Garcia also cracked the top 30 this week, moving from 34th to 25th, while Patrick Cantlay snuck in at No. 29 after a birdie on the final hole. Cantlay became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2008 to make the Tour Championship in 12 or fewer starts, and he’ll return to Augusta National next spring for the first time since he took low amateur honors in 2012.
“It was definitely a goal of mine for the year,” Cantlay said. “It’s a big deal for the rest of my season, or next season, that way I can set my schedule next year. It’s big for me.”
While four players moved into the top 30, four also moved out. Henrik Stenson, Brendan Steele and Bill Haas all saw their seasons end Sunday, while Louis Oosthuizen fell from No. 24 to No. 31 and finished 0.72 points behind Jason Dufner, who secured the 30th and final spot in next week’s field.
You can see all 30 players who will be in the field next week at the Tour Championship by clicking here.