AMERICA’S Billy Horschel won the third event of the 2014 FedEx Cup playoffs but four Aussies did well enough on the weekend to qualify for the lucrative Tour Championship in Atlanta this week.
Adam Scott, Jason Day, John Senden and Geoff Ogilvy are all through to the 30 man (actually no more than 29 as 30th placed Dustin Johnson is on “special leave”) final at the East Lake Golf Club where every competitor has least a mathematical chance of taking the US$10 million FedEx Cup bonus.
Jason Day is in doubt this week after withdrawing midway through the second round at the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado with a back injury. (There was still no news as to his status as we published this.)
Qualifying for the Tour Championship not only means a hefty boost for the bank balance (for instance, the definitely not playing Dustin Johnson will be paid US$303,000 if he comes home alone in last place) for others, such as Ogilvy, it guarantees qualifying for the US Masters and other majors next year.
For the 27 year old Horshel it was the biggest win of his career thanks to a red hot putter that helped him to a final round 1-under 69 and tournament total 14-under.
That was two better than reigning US Masters champion Bubba Watson (66), alone in second place, with fellow American Morgan Hoffman storming home with a 62, 63 weekend to grab third and unfortunately knock Stuart Appleby from 30th to 31st in the FedEx standings and out of the championships.
Scott (66) did the best of the Aussies, finishing at 8-under tied for 8th along with Rory McIlroy (66) and Jordan Spieth (67). (All Australian Open starters this year by coincidence)
John Senden (68) finished on 3-under tied for 23rd, with Ogilvy (70) 1-over and T36, and Appleby (71) 3-over and T46. Marc Leishman (73), Matt Jones (69) and Steven Bowditch (69) finished their seasons.
Late on the final day Appleby seemed to have a top 30 place sewn up when Canadian Graham DeLaet (68) triple bogied and slipped to 11th place. But then Hideki Matsuyama (69) and particularly Hoffmann made late runs that sealed the Aussie veteran’s fate.
“It is disappointing but no regrets,” Appleby told AAP afterwards.
“At least now next year I will be playing pro-ams again, getting a look at courses more, and hopefully heading in the right direction,” he said, referring to his improved tour status.
Ogilvy finished 25th in the FedEx standings, allowing him to return to the Masters next year for the first time since 2011. The top 30 finish also means automatic exemptions to the US Open and British Open.
“Somehow I managed to not fall over this week. I’m pretty tired. The altitude wears you out and this many tournaments in a row also wears you out so it’s great to be back next week and back at Augusta next year,” said Ogilvy, obviously fatigued after a perilous run since breaking his four year drought on the US PGA Tour by winning the 2014 Barracuda Championship in Nevada early in August. He was languishing in last-placed 100th spot in the rankings going into the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston last week but came up trumps with his second place finish.
“To be honest I’m not a hundred per cent excited about playing golf next week, but I’m really excited about what making the Tour Championship does for me,” the 2006 Us Open winner said. “It’s the best exemption in this sport, outside of a big win.”
The Tour Championship gets underway Thursday (US time) at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Henrik Stenson is the defending champion and also the defending FedEx Cup holder, echoing the fact that if any of the top five ranked players win on Sunday they also automatically take the US$10 million bonus. Everyone else has to depend on other results, but as previously mentioned, all starters have a mathematic chance of taking the bonus.
The top five placed golfers are last week’s winner Chris Kirk, Horschel, Watson, McIlroy and The Barclays winner Hunter Mahan.
Day is the top ranked Aussie at 10th, Scott is 12th, Senden 17th and Ogilvy, as mentioned, 25th.BMW Championship Leaderboard