Second City scenarios

By Jason SobelSeptember 17, 2011, 9:10 pm

LEMONT, Ill. –  There are certain days on the annual golf calendar whose mere mention will induce a professional golfer’s fingers to tremble ever so slightly and his heart rate to speed up just a little bit.

The final round of PGA Tour Q-School is one of ‘em. U.S. Open qualifying is another. And now we can add one more to the list: Sunday at the BMW Championship.

Why such white-knuckle conditions at the penultimate event of the regular season, where seemingly a rich-get-richer philosophy permeates the atmosphere? It’s because so much is on the line for so many players entering the final round, from FedEx Cup advancement to Presidents Cup roster spots to Player of the Year votes.

These stories are numerous.

After bombing his drive on the final hole in Saturday’s third round, John Senden stood over his second shot with plenty at stake. He didn’t know it, of course, but a birdie would catapult him into 10th place on the projected FedEx standings; a par would keep him in 24th position and a bogey would leave him at 33rd – outside the number needed to advance to next week’s Tour Championship.

Senden stuck the shot to nine feet and made the ensuing putt to take sole possession of second place with 18 holes to play, but those projections are fleeting. And he knows it.

“I’ll think about not looking at leaderboards, I guess,” said Senden, who entered the week in 55th position. “I think that it’s a good, challenging golf course. I need to do what’s best for me and that’s play my game and not worry about what happens with the other players and just go out there and do my best. Hopefully that’s good enough.”

The Aussie actually has double reason for needing a strong finish, as a victory would also vault him onto the Presidents Cup team for The International side.

That’s a scenario Jim Furyk knows all too well. Currently ninth in the U.S. standings, he finds himself locked in what appears to be a five-man battle for the final three spots, alongside Hunter Mahan, David Toms, Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas.

Meanwhile, the reigning playoff champion came into the week as the No. 35 man on the list, but thanks to his T-7 placement on the leaderboard is now 27th and inside the number.

“As far as getting into The Tour Championship, I know that [Friday] the computer had me projected 31st, so I know that I’ve got to move up on the weekend,” Furyk surmised. “As far as the Presidents Cup, it’s in the back of my mind, it’s weighing on me, I obviously want to make the team. The only thing I can really control is how I play. It’s hard not to look at the leaderboard and see how the guys are doing, but ultimately I can only control how I play.”

Many of the bubble boys are looking to advance in order to simply enjoy one more chance at the spoils that come with playing well at the Tour Championship, most notably the $10 million first-place prize given to the FedEx Cup champion.

For others, though, just reaching the field at East Lake Golf Club will provide an opportunity that otherwise may not present itself anytime soon.

Such is the case for Brandt Jobe. Currently in a share of seventh place, he needs to move into a tie for third in order to continue playing next week. That may be a tall order, considering he needs to make up three strokes on those in that place on the leaderboard right now, but if he does it on Sunday, suddenly Jobe will find himself eligible for each of next year’s first three major championships and the WGC event at Doral – some grandiose consolation prizes for having a strong final round at Cog Hill.

“If you look at it as, I’m trying to get enough points to get into the next one, all that stuff takes care of itself,” Jobe stated. “I’ve played in all those anyway. Would I like to play in them again? Heck yes. But I think more of the grind will be trying to do it if I have a chance.

“After the first round, I told [my caddie], ‘You know what would be nice? To be able to go out on Sunday and say if I shoot 66 or 67, I’ve got a chance. That’s all. … At least, ending the year, if I go out and if I play good, I can do it. That’s all I can ask for.”

So many players will have a chance to seriously enhance their career with a strong round on Sunday. Projections will be tallied in real-time, certain guys falling in and out of desired placements on these lists.

They all have one thing in common, though. As every player in this situation said as he walked off the course after the third round, playing better golf is the lone tonic that can cure any ills.

Getty Images

Koepka primed for CJ Cup win and world No. 1

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 6:00 am

Brooks Koepka wants a 2-for-1 at the CJ Cup. If he can collect his second non-major PGA Tour victory he can become world No. 1 for the first time in his career.

He’s in great position to accomplish his goal.

Koepka eagled the par-5 18th en route to a 7-under 65 in the second round at Nine Bridges in Juju Island, South Korea. At 8 under par, he is one back of 36-hole leader Scott Piercy (65).

Koepka, currently ranked third in the world, began the day three shots off the lead, but rapidly ascended the leaderboard. He birdied four of his first eight holes before finding trouble at the ninth. Koepka hooked his tee shot out of bounds, but the ninth is a par 5 and he was able to salvage bogey.

Full-field scores from the CJ Cup

CJ Cup: Articles, photos and videos

Current Official World Golf Ranking

That was his only dropped shot of the day.

The reigning Tour Player of the Year birdied the 12th and 14th holes in his bid to keep pace with Piercy. Koepka was two back as he played his final hole, where he knocked his second shot to 10 feet. He deftly converted the eagle effort to tie Piercy and earn a spot in Saturday’s final twosome. Piercy later pulled a shot ahead with a birdie at the ninth, his final hole of the day.

Koepka has officially won four PGA Tour events, but three of those are majors (2017, ’18 U.S. Open; 2018 PGA). His lone non-major win was the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

He can still reach world No. 1 with a solo second place, assuming Justin Thomas, currently world No. 4, doesn’t win this week.

That will take a mighty weekend effort by the defending champ.

Thomas also eagled the 18th hole to go from 1 over to 1 under. He shot 2-under 70 in the second round and is seven shots off the lead.

Getty Images

'Go in'? Yes, JT wants an ace at the par-4 14th

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 5:11 am

Justin Thomas didn’t hesitate after hitting his tee shot on the 353-yard, par-4 14th in Round 2 of the CJ Cup.

“Go in,” he immediately said.

“Please go in,” he added.

Thomas’ tee shot was on a great line, but it landed just short of the green. Surprisingly, it took three more shots for his ball to "go in." After birdies on Nos. 12 and 13, Thomas parred the 14th.

Getty Images

Watch: Dufner makes six (!) fist pumps after birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 4:53 am

Jason Dufner makes Ben Stein seem like Jonathan Winters. Dufner often looks mighty miserable for someone who plays golf for a living.

But not on Friday at the CJ Cup!

Dufner made a 20-footer for birdie at the 16th hole and “celebrated” with one-two-three-(pause)-four-five-six fist pumps. There could have been more, but the camera cut away.

That was Dufner’s third birdie on the back nine, which offset a triple bogey at the par-3 seventh, en route to an even-par 72. Good times.

Getty Images

Watch: Paul C-ace-y makes hole-in-one at CJ Cup

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 2:35 am

Par-par-par-par-par-par. It was a boring second round over the first six holes for Paul Casey at the CJ Cup.

And then he aced the par-3 seventh.

Casey's tee shot from 176 tracked straight towards the hole and rolled in near the final revolution. That got him to 2 under par for the tournament. He was five off the lead, held by Chez Reavie, but bogeyed the ninth and 10th holes to give back those two strokes.

Hey, it's a no-cut event and a guaranteed paycheck. Drinks on Casey!