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Weather complicates already complicated BMW

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 8, 2018, 11:50 pm

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. – It might take a few days to finish – the forecast for Sunday calls for biblical rain – but the final round of the BMW Championship offers six compelling storylines.

The least of which might be who actually wins the tournament. 

On a cool, damp but ideal day for scoring, Justin Rose went out in 29 and made nine consecutive pars to finish to take a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele.

Waterlogged Aronimink has surrendered plenty of low scores through three rounds – the toughest day for scoring was the first round, at 68.13(!) – and it’ll take another mid-60s score in wet and windy conditions Sunday (or Monday) to break away from a congested leaderboard with 14 other players within five shots of the lead.

“I don’t quite know how tomorrow is going to play out,” Rose said. “I don’t think anyone knows what to expect.”

Rose, who won the former AT&T National here in 2010, bogeyed his opening hole Thursday and hasn’t dropped a shot since. He’s at 17-under 193.

Though Rose would surely love to collect the $1.62 million check, his third win of the season wouldn’t dramatically alter the playoff landscape – he’d only jump from No. 3 to No. 2 in the FedExCup standings.

The stakes are much higher for Schauffele, of course.

After starting the week No. 41 in the rankings, he’s projected to move to sixth with a win, but his first title in nearly a year would also make U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk’s decision more difficult with one wildcard selection remaining.

With that in mind, here’s a look at what else is at stake during what will be a soggy, sloppy final round:

FEDEXCUP TOP 5

Bryson DeChambeau is already guaranteed to hold the top spot at the Tour Championship, but the rest of the top 5 is far from settled.

It’s the magic number: Those inside the top 5 in the standings will capture the FedExCup title if they win the season finale at East Lake.

Right now, using the PGA Tour’s projections, that group includes DeChambeau, Rose, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau.

The most interesting case is Finau, who is fifth despite not winning an event this season. He has 10 top-10s, second-most on Tour this season.

Brooks Koepka could benefit from a big Sunday. The two-time major winner this season and no-brainer choice for Player of the Year is projected seventh.


FEDEXCUP TOP 30

Jordan Spieth’s Tour Championship streak is in jeopardy.

He hasn’t missed a date at East Lake in his young Tour career, but he’s on the outside looking in heading into the final round. 

Spieth is projected 31st on the FedExCup points list, 20 behind Keegan Bradley.

Earlier this week, when asked about the possibility of missing East Lake for the first time, Spieth said that he wouldn’t get caught up in the projections or standings and that reaching the finale wasn’t “do or die.”  

Spieth is at 6-under 204, in a tie for 39th.

Those also on the wrong side of the bubble: No. 32 Emiliano Grillo, No. 33 Andrew Putnam, No. 34 Ryan Armour and No. 35 Chez Reavie.

Tiger Woods is tied for 11th, five shots behind, but he’s projected to only climb one spot in the standings, to No. 24. Gary Woodland (27th), two-time winner Patton Kizzire (28th) and Marc Leishman (29th) all need solid final rounds to secure their spot at East Lake.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from BMW Championship


RYDER CUP

Schauffele wasn’t sure that even a win at the BMW would be enough to sway Furyk’s opinion on the final pick.

But he’d at least like to find out.

Late Saturday, after hanging with Rose all day, Schauffele three-putted from the edge of the 18th green to drop one shot behind heading into the final day.  

“I’m tired right now,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been grinding more this year. I’m going to try and play well tomorrow, and I’ll be really happy.”

Schauffele probably needs to win just to receive serious consideration from the U.S. decision-makers. Tony Finau is the presumptive favorite, and he hasn’t exactly bombed this week – his Saturday 67 lost ground on the leaders, but he’s still T-15.  

The Ryder Cup committee added this 11th-hour selection to make sure that the hottest American player wasn’t left off the squad. If Schauffele – who finished 12th in qualifying – wins the BMW before the deadline, isn’t he exactly who the powers-that-be were hoping to identify?


WORLD NO. 1

There also could be a change at the top of the world rankings.

Rose could move to No. 1 for the first time in his career if he wins at Aronimink and Koepka and Johnson both finish worse than a two-way tie for second. There’s even a scenario that Rose could get to No. 1 if he finishes second.

Thomas’ scenarios are similar: Win the BMW (he’s T-7) and have Koepka and Johnson finish outside the top 2. That scenario, at least, seems inevitable: Both Koepka and Johnson are outside the top 30 heading into the final round. 


FORECAST

This is the great unknown heading into Sunday.

Rose wanted to hole his 20-footer on 18 to ensure that he had a one-stroke lead – you know, just in case the final round is wiped out.

Officials have already moved up tee times five hours Sunday in anticipation of storms that are expected to drop another inch and a half of rain on a course that has already been inundated with nearly three inches.

The Tour’s meteorologist is optimistic that the heaviest rainfall will occur after 2 p.m., but if the system arrives early the BMW seems destined for a Monday finish. Keep in mind that the forecast for Monday calls for rain, too.

This presents a headache for tournament organizers, of course, but it’s also the worst-case scenario for players. Most are playing their third event in a row (and their fifth in seven weeks), and they could desperately use a week off at the tail end of a long season. Any further delays would cut into their valuable recovery time, especially with the Tour Championship and Ryder Cup on deck.

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Fisher becomes first in Euro Tour history to shoot 59

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 21, 2018, 11:29 am

There’s never been a sub-60 score on the European Tour, and Oliver Fisher almost went two strokes better Friday at the Portugal Masters.

Fisher’s 40-footer for history on the final green burned the edge, but he tapped in the short par putt to record the first 59 in tour history.   

“It feels great,” he said afterward. “It was in the back of my mind all day.”

It didn’t look like it.

The 287th-ranked player in the world, Fisher made 10 birdies, an eagle and seven pars during his magical round.

All of the other major pro tours have produced a 59 – nine times on the PGA Tour; once on the LPGA – but this was the first time that a player on the European Tour broke the sub-60 barrier. (There have been 19 rounds of 60.) Earlier this year, at the Scottish Open, Brandon Stone narrowly missed an 8-footer on the final green during the final round. This tournament has produced a few chances, as well, with both Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts coming up just short.

Fisher went out in 28 at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, then made three birdies in a row to start the back nine. He tacked on another birdie on 15 to give himself a shot at history, then played the closing stretch in 1 under.

On 16, he needed a 20-footer for par after leaving his tee shot well short of the flag. He two-putted for birdie on 17 and then coolly made par on the last, after his birdie try from 40 feet just missed on the left edge.

“It was very different to a couple of years ago on this green when I was putting to keep my card,” he said. “I kept that in the back of my mind, thinking things could be worse.”


To this point, Fisher had a forgettable season. Ranked 72nd in the Race to Dubai, he didn’t have a top-10 in a stroke-play event since late February. His last four results: MC-T71-MC-MC. He opened the Portugal Masters with a 71 and was in danger of missing the cut.

Now, improbably, he’s in position to score his second European Tour title, after capturing the 2011 Czech Open.

“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s not often that we get a chance to shoot a really low one.”

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Paisley (61) leads Web.com Tour Championship

By Associated PressSeptember 20, 2018, 11:56 pm

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Chris Paisley birdied four of the last five holes for a 10-under 61 and the first-round lead Thursday in the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

The South African Open winner in January for his first European Tour title, Paisley played the back nine first at Atlantic Beach Country Club, holing a bunker shot for an eagle on the par-5 18th. On the front nine, he birdied the par-3 fifth and finished with three straight birdies.

''I think just all around was really good,'' Paisley said. ''I hit it well off the tee, which gave me a lot of kind of short irons into the greens and opportunities. I hit a lot of really good iron shots close, and then a few other bonus kind of things happened where I holed the bunker shot on 18 and holed a long putt on No. 8.''

The 32-year-old Englishman missed the cuts in the first three Web.com Tour Finals events after getting into the series as a non-member PGA Tour with enough money to have placed in the top 200 in the FedEx Cup. The final card went for $40,625 last year, with Paisley needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to mathematically have a chance to secure one of the 25 PGA Tour at stake.


Full-field scores from the Web.com Tour Championship


''The nice thing was I won early in the year in Europe,'' said Paisley, a former University of Tennessee player. ''I've got the first two Final series events locked up, I think I'm in those. I'm not guaranteed to be in Dubai yet. But I just thought we have a house over here, my wife's American, my goal is to try to get on the PGA Tour, so it was a perfect opportunity to try and do it.''

Cameron Tringale and Canadian Ben Silverman were two strokes back at 63. Tringale is tied for 83rd in the PGA Tour card race with $2,660, and Silverman is tied for 85th at $2,600.

''I hit a lot of good shots and made some good putts,'' Silverman said. ''Actually, it could have been lower, but I'm not complaining. Missed a couple putts inside 6x feet, but I'm not complaining at all, it was a great round.''

Lucas Glover was at 64 with Ben Crane, Nicholas Lindheim, Matt Every, Trevor Cone, Denny McCarthy, Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez. Carlos Ortiz and Jose de Jesus Rodriguez earned PGA Tour cards as top-25 finishers on the Web.com Tour regular-season money list, and McCarthy has made $75,793 in the first three Finals events to also wrap up a card. In the race for the 25 cards, Lindholm is 19th with $35,836, Every 30th with $25,733, Glover 40th with $17,212, and Cone 59th with $8,162

The series features the top 75 players from the Web.com regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and Paisley and other non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200. The top-25 finishers on the Web.com regular-season money list are competing against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. The other players are fighting for the 25 cards based on series earnings.

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McIlroy likely to join PGA Tour PAC next year

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:28 pm

ATLANTA – The upside of the PGA Tour’s sweeping changes to next year’s playoff finale, along with a host of other significant changes to the schedule, seems to be more engagement in circuit policy by top players.

Jordan Spieth served on the player advisory council this season and will begin his three-year term as one of four player directors on the policy board next year, and Justin Thomas also was on this year’s PAC.

Those meetings might become even more high profile next year.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I'm not on the PAC. I'm probably going to join the PAC next year. Nice to sort of know what's going on and give your input and whatever,” Rory McIlroy said following his round on Thursday at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy said he spoke with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the transition to a strokes-based format for the Tour Championship starting next year. Given his take on Thursday to the media it must have been an interesting conversation.

“I like it for the FedExCup. I don't necessarily think it should be an official Tour win. I don't know how the World Ranking points are going to work,” said McIlroy, who is tied for fifth after a first-round 67 at East Lake. “There's a lot of stuff that still needs to be figured out. But in terms of deciding the FedExCup, I think it's good.”

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Thomas (67) happy to feel no pain in wrist

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2018, 11:03 pm

ATLANTA – When Justin Thomas arrived at East Lake he didn’t have very high expectations.

After injuring his right wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship he spent last week in south Florida getting therapy after being diagnosed with a case of tendinitis and little else.

He said he didn’t hit a full shot last week and didn’t expect much out of his game at the finale, but was pleasantly surprised with his play following an opening 67 that left him tied for fifth place and two strokes off the lead. But most of all he was pleased that he didn’t feel any pain in his wrist.


Projected FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“I thought that I may not be playing very well because of my preparation being able to hit as few balls as I have, but no, in terms of pain, it's not an issue,” he said.

Thomas explained that he tested the wrist earlier this week to be sure he was pain-free and conceded he considered not playing the Tour Championship in order to be as healthy as possible for next week’s Ryder Cup.

“If it would have hurt at all, I wouldn't have played,” said Thomas, who will be a rookie on this year’s U.S. team. “No. 1 most important part is my future and my career. I don't want to do anything that's going to put me out for a while. But to me, second most important is Ryder Cup. I would rather not play this week and play the Ryder Cup and be fresh and make sure I'm going to get as many points for the team as possible.”