Victory came in many forms Monday at the rain-delayed BMW Championship – so, shots of momentum for everyone who’s coming to East Lake and the Tour Championship next week. On the house.
Tiger Woods didn’t win at the Aronimink Golf Cub outside Philadelphia. But he did shoot 65 Monday and rounded out a 17-under week, his lowest finish to par since March of 2013. He moved up to 20th in FedEx Cup point standings, safely inside the top 30 who will tee off starting Sept. 20 at East Lake for the Tour Championship and the playoff championship known as the FedEx Cup.
Given that Woods hasn’t made the Tour Championship since 2013, someone may have to direct him to the front gate at East Lake. By the way, Tiger, they’ve flipped the nines since you’ve last played there, so don’t be confused.
“At the end of the season here, to say that I made it back to the Tour Championship after what I've been through is a pretty good accomplishment,” he told reporters following Monday’s round. He was referring to the spinal fusion surgery that had left his career in doubt. Woods also this week was named to play in the Ryder Cup, so all in all, a pretty uplifting few days.
“To make the Ryder Cup team and get back to East Lake, that was a pretty big goal at the beginning of the year,” Woods said. “To be able to accomplish that is something I'm very proud of. I'll represent the United States over there (France) and also compete, I guess, as one of the top players on the Tour (at East Lake).
“To have a chance to win again this year, it's a very positive feeling.”
At 20-under through 72 holes, Keegan Bradley did win the BMW, parring the first playoff hole to beat Justin Rose. Rose was done in by a wayward drive to start the playoff. With the victory, his first since 2012, Bradley catapulted from 52nd in FedEx Cup points to 6th. Like Woods, he’ll be making his first trip to the Tour Championship in five years.
Weep not for Rose. With his performance he stepped over Dustin Johnson to the summit of the world golf rankings. He’s also snugly just behind playoff points leader Bryson DeChambeau. Anyone in the top five is assured of winning the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus by winning the Tour Championship. Those between No. 6 and 30 need a little help.
“There will be next week to win tournaments, but to get to world No. 1 is unbelievable,” said Rose, who has finished second in the last two playoff events. “It's something I can say now in my career I've been the best player in the world. I've been to the top of the game. That's definitely some consolation.”
Last year’s FedEx Cup champion, Justin Thomas, shot 15-under for the week, but such was the go-low mentality at the BMW that was only good for a T-12. Still, he remained at No. 5 in the points standings, and well positioned to become the first ever back-to-back FedEx Cup champion.
Also in the top five in points is Tony Finau (16-under, T-8 at the BMW) who will be arriving at East Lake with one of the more impressive collections of recent scorecards. His last 15 rounds have all been in the 60s – the longest such streak on the PGA Tour this year.
There was one verifiable loser amid all this happy news. Jordan Spieth crapped out, shooting 73 Monday and finishing T-55 (3-under). He’s the first man out, falling to 31st, one spot behind final Tour Championship qualifier Patton Kizzire.
Spieth had made East Lake a routine stop on his schedule since his first full year on the PGA Tour (2014), winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in 2015.
Apparently, he was assuming he’d make it in again, for Spieth needed to play the Tour Championship to make his mandatory 25 events this season. Those on the wrong side of that new rule are subject to a “major fine” ($20,000 or more) or suspension.
TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD
EAST LAKE GOLF CLUB
(In order of FedEx Cup points)