LAKE FOREST, Ill. ' With one round remaining before the season-ending Tour Championship, much remains to be decided as one final stretch of FedEx Cup number crunching awaits the field of 70 players at the BMW Championship Sunday.
For overnight leader Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker, who trails Furyk by one shot, the goal is top five in the overall standings, a placement that would allow them both to control their own playoff fates at next weeks finale. Furyk entered this week 15th in points but could rise to third with a win, while Stricker, currently eighth in points, would climb to fourth with a runner-up finish, perhaps further with a win.
Both players indicated that projected points are the furthest thing from their mind heading into the final round.
It would be nice, obviously, but thats kind of putting the cart before the horse, explained Furyk. Im really thinking about trying to win this golf tournament.
Stricker explained that he doesnt plan to pay any attention to the standings until after the conclusion of play Sunday.
All that other stuff kind of takes care of itself, he said of the points race, choosing instead to focus on the task of chasing down the 54-hole leader.
With 18 holes to go, world No. 1 Tiger Woods is projected to return to the overall top spot heading to East Lake, as he enters the final round in fifth place, four shots behind Furyk. Current No. 1 Henrik Stenson would drop to second, with Furyk, Stricker and Adam Scott rounding out the top five, each of whom would then win the overall FedEx Cup with a win next week in Atlanta.
A second points race will occur near the 30th position, as only the top 30 players will advance to next weeks Tour Championship. While points remain fluid with one round remaining, D.A. Points, Harris English and Dustin Johnson currently cling to the 28th, 29th and 30th positions in the standings, respectively.
Currently on the outside of the bubble sit Charles Howell III, Kevin Stadler and Jimmy Walker, projected to occupy positions 31-33, respectively. Howell and Stadler have been unable to gain any traction this week in Chicago after beginning the week 31st and 32nd in the standings, each hoping to crack the top 30 and earn berths into each of the first three majors for 2014, a perk that accompanies a Tour Championship appearance.
Walker, meanwhile, began the week 45th but has moved up thanks to three rounds that have left him tied for 11th, seven shots behind Furyk.
Through 54 holes, the only player in position to play his way into the top 30 is Nick Watney, who began the week 34th but is now projected to rise to 27th as he begins the final round in a tie for eighth. The player projected to move out of the top 30 at Watneys expense is Lee Westwood, who started the week at No. 30 but is projected to fall all the way to 44th after struggling to an 80 on Thursday.