LEMONT, Ill. – Right when it looked as though Justin Rose might blow a big lead, he chipped in for birdie on the 17th hole to secure a two-shot victory Sunday in the BMW Championship that sends him to East Lake for a shot at $10 million.
Rose closed with an even-par 71 in the rain at Cog Hill for his first win of the year, and it came at just the right time. He was not assured of making the FedEx Cup finale at the Tour Championship, and now is one of five players who only have to win at East Lake next week to collect golf’s biggest bonus.
But it wasn’t easy.
Five shots ahead with 10 holes to play, Rose’s lead was down to one after he drove into the trees on the par-5 15th and made bogey. From just short of the 17th green, however, the 31-year-old from England holed a chip from 35 feet for an unlikely birdie that sent him on his way.
Senden shot 70, and his runner-up finish moved him from No. 55 in the FedEx Cup to No. 9, putting him among the top 30 from the 70 players at Cog Hill to advance to the Tour Championship.
Rose wasn’t the only big winner at the third playoff event. Geoff Ogilvy, who had to birdie the last hole at the TPC Boston two weeks ago just to stay alive in the playoffs, shot a 69 and finished alone in third. Now he’s in the Tour Championship, and qualified for the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Indeed, there was more than one cup at stake on a dreary afternoon south of Chicago.
Rose captured the most important trophy - his third PGA Tour win, and the biggest of his career, that paid $1.44 million. The BMW Championship also was the final event for the top 10 players to qualify for the Presidents Cup.
Despite all the possibilities for the U.S. team, there was no change.
David Toms went from No. 10 to No. 8 with his tie for 10th. The heartache belonged to Bill Haas, who was tied for third at the BMW going into the final round. He was poised to claim one of the 10 spots until he posted a 42 on the back nine and shot 78, when a score of 75 would have been just enough.
“I knew if I played well, something good would happen,” Haas said. “And I knew if I played bad, nothing would happen.”
It’s the second straight year that Haas walked away from Cog Hill feeling empty. A year ago, he finished 31st in the FedEx Cup by a mere seven points.
Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk nailed down the last two spots for the United States. The other seven who had locked up spots were Matt Kuchar, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson.
Nothing but the order changed for the International team, either. Its list is based on the world ranking. Ogilvy, who was narrowly No. 10, moved ahead of Ryo Ishikawa to No. 9. The other eight players are Jason Day, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, K.J. Choi, K.T. Kim, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Y.E. Yang.
Captains Fred Couples and Greg Norman will make two picks after the Tour Championship. Couples already has said Tiger Woods will be one of his picks.
For the FedEx Cup, Bo Van Pelt nailed down the 30th spot by a comfortable margin over Martin Laird. Even so, there were some tense moments. Despite difficult conditions, Camilo Villegas made nine birdies and had the best round of the day at 66. But he made bogey on the 18th hole, walked off the green to check a scoring terminal and slammed his fist onto the table.
Turns out it didn’t matter.
The final round proved relatively flat, with only three players having a serious chance throughout the day. Rose was headed for a runaway when he birdied the sixth and seventh holes to reach 14 under, giving him a five-shot lead over Senden.
Back-to-back birdies for Senden around the turn, along with a bogey by Rose at the par-5 ninth, made it tight at the top. Rose did well to save par on the 13th and 14th holes.
Ogilvy, playing in the group ahead of Rose, ran off birdies on the 13th and 14th to get in the hunt. Ogilvy had good looks at birdie on three of the last four holes and failed to convert.
He made his goal of Royal Melbourne and East Lake. For a brief moment, he wanted more.
“It was a slightly flat feeling when you look back because I might have had a chance to win the tournament,” Ogilvy said. “But who am I kidding? It’s my best tournament in months.”
Luke Donald, the world No. 1 who opened with a 75, closed with a 68 and finished alone in fourth. The top five players going to the Tour Championship are Webb Simpson, Johnson, Rose, Donald and Matt Kuchar. If any of them win at East Lake, they win the FedEx Cup.