With only two weeks left to impress Tom Watson, Hunter Mahan shot a final-round 65 Sunday to emerge from a crowded leaderboard and win the playoff-opening Barclays by two shots. Here’s the skinny on the final round at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.:
The leaderboard: Hunter Mahan (-14); Jason Day, Stuart Appleby and Cameron Tringale at -12; Matt Kuchar, Ernie Els and William McGirt at -11
What it means: That shriek you heard was Tom Watson celebrating after Mahan’s victory at the playoff opener, the sixth of his career. Winless since the 2012 Houston Open, Mahan had been awfully quiet before a late-summer surge, finishing in the top 15 in both the Bridgestone and PGA. Even with that stretch he was still a Ryder Cup afterthought, but his red-hot form now makes him a virtual lock. Given what happened the last time the Ryder Cup was held overseas, Mahan might feel as though he has some unfinished business, too.
Round of the day: Mahan caught fire on the back nine, making birdie on Nos. 11, 13, 15, 16 and 17. His bogey on 18 was his only misstep on the day, and he cleared a trio of players by two shots. He has now shot 65 or better in each of his last three tournaments, all in August. He moved to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Best of the rest: Celebrating his 27th birthday, Cameron Tringale birdied Nos. 15-17 to give himself a chance at a maiden victory, but a 72nd-hole bogey left him two shy. It was a nice bounce-back from his after-the-fact DQ at the PGA. Also finishing at 12-under 272 was Stuart Appleby, who has no top 10s since the Honda but got hot Sunday at Ridgewood. He made five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine to surge into the lead, and his back-to-back par saves on 17 and 18 secured a high finish. He will advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship for the first time since 2010.
Biggest disappointment: Jim Furyk is now 0 for 8 with at least a share of the 54-hole lead since 2012. Winless since the 2010 Tour Championship, Furyk made two early birdies to keep pace with fellow co-leader Jason Day, but four dropped shots coming home, including a bogey on the last, sent him tumbling to a solo eighth finish. As has often been the case recently, Furyk was chased down Sunday by a hotter player – or in this case, several of them. Furyk’s final-round scores since this 0-for-8 streak began: 69-74-69-69-71-71-69-70.
Shot of the day: Seemingly in control of the tournament after a 20-foot birdie on 17, Mahan blasted his tee shot on the final hole way right, leading to a sideways pitch-out. He tugged his third shot left of the green, over the bunker, then pitched to 6 feet and sank the putt to keep a two-shot advantage.
Quote of the day: “I haven’t played my best this year, so to get a win at an event like this, and the timing that it was, feels unbelievable,” Mahan said. “I’m extremely proud of myself right now.”